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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Kid free

Ellie went to visit her grandparents for the 1st week of classes. A week seems like a long time, and I've had a long list of things to get done. A week isn't a long time. I did finally get the lawn mowed.

I started on a pair of curtains for Ellie's room tonight. Sewing is definitely one of those things best done when Ellie is away visiting. She's pretty much as helpful as I remember being during my childhood when my mother was sewing. I'm sure she'll get her chance to help out. I also bought material for livingroom curtains. There's no way they'll all be finished for some time.

Here's a tidbit about me. I can't sew without sweating. You'd think I was on the treadmill or lifting weights or something. As soon as I lay out the fabric and start measuring, cutting, etc., I perspire. In fact, I always wear my tight glasses for sewing because otherwise they would slip down my nose.

Even though I've made a lot of curtains over the years, I'm always surprised how little sewing there is to sewing. It's mostly pressing, measuring, pinning, pressing. And then you finally get out your sewing machine and it's finished (or it is a short respite and you go back to pressing, measuring, and so on).

Linda and I are trying to make the most of our kid-free week. We are going out to eat a bit, and we're going to take in a movie tomorrow. The rehab center was good enough to schedule an extra set of therapy for her, but I think that was just coincidence.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Really something

I forgot to add an Ellie story to my football post yesterday. Ellie asked me to take her to the bathroom sometime during the game (she had already gone once with her aunt Mary). So I did. She was particularly interested in the way the toilet flushes itself, something she had learned on her first trip.

When she was done, she turned to look at the little red blinking light and said, Yep, it flushed. That toilet is amazing!

It was the cutest thing all afternoon.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Go Dogs!

Yes, we went to the football game today. It was hot, but we had fun. It was nice to win. We just like to go, but winning is fun. It was a great excuse to eat junk food.

Ellie was good. She was afraid of Spike, but strangely curious about him at the same time. She was disappointed not to get one of the small footballs the cheerleaders were tossing into the crowd. Linda was the closest, she almost caught one, but it bounced out of her hand.

Linda said she was suprised how much easier it was this year to go to a game than last year. We did very well walking.

Ellie must have been pooped. This is the first time all week that I remember her going to bed without a fight and actually falling asleep on the first try.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Who ya gonna call?

Ellie and I have watched both of the Ghostbusters movies this week. Now, she runs around the singing There something strange in the neighborhood... Who ya gonna call? It's quite adorable.

Talk of the town

The big thing today seems to be talk.google.com, Google's new instant messaging service. I've seen it work, and it looks great.

The best part is that you can push a button and switch from typing messages to talking (if you both have a microphone and speakers). That is really neat.

Naturally the client is Windows-only at the moment, but lots of free software programs already work with Google Talk, because the cool folks at Google based their system on an open protocol. There's no sound for us Linux geeks at the moment, but I'll bet it doesn't take long.

That's one of the hardships of being a free software zealot. Sometimes you have to be patient for the good toys.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


We made the trip to Columbia today for Linda's 6-month checkup. She gets a little nervous for these since she knows she is being evaluated. That kicks up her tone, so she is never really satisfied with her performance. Still, Dr. R raved about her progress to another Dr. who will soon be moving out west to take a job in another rehab hospital.

We saw all of the old therapists today. Ellie was especially charming in a pink glittered dancing dress that she got for her birthday. She was all energy today. She even played catch with one of the in-patients (for a long time) while we visited.

The walking eventually got to be a bit much for Linda, but she managed pretty well (using her 4-point cane the whole time). We sat down to rest a time or two, and she was really feeling it at the end, but we didn't have to borrow a wheelchair or anything.

All in all, it was a pretty good trip. We got to ask the Dr. a few questions, and we forgot to ask a question or two (which I'm going to send to him via email). Linda got a good walking challenge (and it's good she has tomorrow off to rest). Ellie had fun and was pretty good and very very cute.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Can you get hand foot and mouth disease more than once? It seems that you can. I guess Ellie gets to spend the day with me today.


There are 3 CAT-5 cables running from the wiring box in Ellie's closet. What that means in English is that there should be 3 computer network ports in our house. I could only find two, no matter how had I looked.

Over the weekend, I borrowed the line finder from telephone services. This is a kind of radio receiver they use to trace telephone wires under ground. It was pretty interesting to use. I could actually follow the lines through the wall pretty successfully.

It turns out that there is network cabling run to Ellie's room, but the never put the end on. I found the unterminated CAT-5 in the wall behind the cable TV jack.


Linda had really good therapy yesterday. Not sure why. She told her speech therapists that she's getting really bored. I can only say I'm surprised it has taken this long. I was bored with speech therapy back at Rusk. It is so tedious. They had a conference and talked about broadening the activities and skills she works on.

It was my task to dig up a copy of wicked Z words that I prepared some time ago. For fun, I took Linda through the set. She is quite improved from when I created the list. She said it's still hard though.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Lots of little updates

We watched Regarding Henry last night. It had come up once during therapy, and the therapists then commented about laughing at the inaccuracies. Being something of therapy old-timers now, we laughed at a lot of it too. It's still a nice story. Update: Linda would like me to add, just for the record, that Fred never said, I gotta get me some o' dat. Not even once.

My dishwasher broke yesterday. The door handle on it snapped. Luckily it broke in the open position, because you have to have the door open to take it apart. I'm feeling pretty good about the fact that I successfully removed the handle mechanism, got a $7 replacement part from the Maytag store in town, and reassembled things. It works again. Go Don.

Ellie and I went to March of the Penguins tonight. I didn't think she would watch all of it, but when the baby penguins came on she perked up some and stayed to the end.

We have a new bed. It's as hard as Linda's hospital bed, though not as lumpy. She really likes it, and I'm still adjusting. It's so high you almost have to climb into it. It is much easier for her to roll over and get up and so forth with a hard bed. She said it also makes her back feel better. We didn't want the bed to get lonely, so we got a dinner table too. It's a good thing stuff was reasonably priced (i.e. on sale).

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


Linda really prefers not to go out with her wheelchair when she can avoid it. Basically, that means she doesn't go a lot of places she might because there is too much walking. The movie theater is about the only thing that can entice her out.

Her daughter is vain too. Ellie scratched her eye tonight. I think she may have done it this afternoon, but I didn't figure out what happened until later. In the end, I took her to the after-hours clinic to have the doctor look at it. I figured that he would say it will heal on its own, and he basically did. Most heal fine in about a day.

He did however give me a script for something to make it hurt less and he called the pharmacy (personally) to tell them we were coming so they wouldn't close. They were really cool about it. Before we left, he said to Ellie, Do you like pirates? Ellie does indeed like pirates. He said, Good, because we're going to make you look like a pirate. A great big gauze patch.

In the car, Ellie told me she didn't want to get medicine because she'll look silly as a pirate. I told her that the medicine would make her eye hurt less, but she insisted that she would look silly. They will laugh at me. She also doesn't want to go to day care tomorrow looking like a pirate, because Loujean will laugh. That's probably true, but it wouldn't be mean laughing.

I suppose I should have guessed. Ellie is quite picky about the clothes she wears. I didn't identify this as caring about how she looks, though, because she is just as likely to don brown and pink as she is to match her outfits. I had no idea that she was so aware of what people think about how she looks. Being constantly told how pretty you are leaves its mark I suppose.

I finally told her she doesn't have to wear the patch to day care if she takes care not to rub her eyes.


Speaking of gauze. I had a flashback to the hospital. When Linda had double vision, we cut down square pieces of gauze, just like Ellie's, to cover one lens of her glasses. Ellie asked me to make her patch smaller and I was instantly reminded of that.

A night of nightmares

The whole family had nightmares last night. I dreamed that I was in a big city and Ellie kept wandering off. Linda didn't tell me what her dreams were about, but she mentioned that Ellie dreamed about her mother. Apparently, Ellie called out in her sleep twice for Linda and only once for me. Go figure.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Understood at home

Linda has told me for some time that Ellie intentionally misunderstands her. That was very apparent when my niece Gwyn was visiting. When Linda spoke to Gwyn, she often returned a completely blank look. Ellie promptly translated for her. I am so used to being the translator, it was strange hearing Ellie do that. But Linda is right. Ellie understands more than I gave her credit for.

One tired family

My sister Diane came to visit yesterday. Her daughter Gwyn slept over. It was fun, but those two girls (Gwyn and Ellie) can make a mess faster than your pinky can reach for the Enter key. Gwyn has a younger brother Jack that could compete in crawl races and pulls out anything not fastened with barbed wire.

She's a looker, that one

I took Ellie to the eye doctor today. She went for kid's day last year and did really well. She was a bit more shy and scared this year, but with coaxing did pretty much all of the tests. She asked a lot of questions about the exam chair. I told her the doctor uses it to look at your eyes.

Ellie insisted that the doctor uses it to look at and hurt your eyes. She pointed at a picture on the wall. It was an image of an optic nerve surrounded by images of different diseased retinas. To Ellie it was a big red eye cut into pieces. I couldn't talk her out of that.

When the doctor came in, she immediately pointed at the picture and said it was a hurt eye. He responded with that authority that only doctors have, Yes, we have big red eye on the wall. But your eyes aren't red are they? They're blue. Duh, why didn't I think of that.

Ellie was still a bit afraid of him, but they did pretty well.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The long walk to work

Linda walked to my office on Sunday night (new office with a window). That means that we parked in the very closest handicap spot, walked in and up the steps to 2nd floor and over to my office. She almost started to cry about 20 ft from the door when it was about 8 feet farther than she expected. We came mostly to practice, but I needed to change a cable on one of the computers, so I did it while we were there.

When I told her I was going to do a computer repair, she lamented that they always take a long time. I responded that I would be finished long before she was done resting, and I was right. In fact, she said she couldn't do the walk back to the car. So I rolled her back to the elevator on my office chair and she only had to walk about one quarter of the return distance.

She was tired all day Monday and today still. Obviously that was a little bit too far to go.

In therapy news, Ellie attended on Monday. Day care was closed. Linda practiced trying to pick up Ellie three or four times. She was only partly successful, although Ellie helped by putting her arms around Linda's neck. Linda was disappointed by how hard it was, but I'm more optimistic. I think with a little practice she will get it. There are a lot of pretty big muscle groups involved with lifting, and I bet they'll respond pretty quickly.

Our homework is to try it at home. That'll mean getting Ellie and me (to spot for falls) and Linda all ready to go at the same time. But I think we'll manage to work it in.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Moldy OJ?

I've seen a lot of stuff grow in my fridge, including at the moment some brightly colored molds that I have never seen previously, but never moldy orange juice. However, checking out this link for a program that changes phone numbers into phrases turned up something that will guarantee you never forget my number.


I don't always have much of a title. I just write my little entries because I know people read them.

Whew! Five days of swimming lessons done. Today we had a day off, so we... we... Well, we went to the pool. I know it's insane, but we went to the wading pool. Ellie had a great time. Linda came, and we met a friend and her children. Ellie was really good about playing on her own, although she and I took a little time to practice swimming lesson stuff (her idea).

Linda has a new ebook reader, which she brought but didn't read. New isn't quite accurate actually; it's a refurbished Linux-powered PDA. I was able to get it pretty inexpensively (because people don't really want Linux on their palm-tops maybe) and it had a good resolution screen. That's what makes it a good candidate for reading. I loaded all of her Zorro stories onto it so she could see how it works, and she likes it.

I have to say, Linux on a palm-top is about as bad as Windows on a palm-top, but it won't matter to Linda, since she will probably only use it for reading stories anyway. The king of PDA usability is definitely Palm-OS (but they cost twice as much). Still, there were some neat things about having it run Linux. I'll probably demo it for the Free Software Club this fall.

Don is 35 today.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Made for water

I've been taking Ellie to swimming lessons this week. I don't know about her, but I'm beat. There's a reason Linda won't do pool therapy. Walking around in water is a lot of hard work. Ellie is loving it, and she's doing really well. It's a huge improvement from two years ago when she cried every time we went. Now she cries when she leaves.

Ellie mostly likes to do her own thing, but we have an arrangement. We take turns. She can choose what to do sometimes, but then she has to do one or two lesson things. She generally ends up doing all of the exercises from the class, but usually in a different order. Sometimes she likes the class stuff and asks for that.

Yesterday her big achievement was that she got into water a bit too deep and dipped under without panicing. She was surprised, but moved herself to a bit shallower spot quickly.

She's been really good all week. I told her that if she gets really cranky and misbehaving because she is too tired, we'll skip swimming. So she's been good about going to bed and taking her nap at day care (or at least trying). Last night, the whole family went out for ice cream and then campus for a bit of running around. Okay, Linda didn't run so much as plod along. But Ellie ran a lot. I don't know how she has the energy.

It was really nice.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Not quotable

Here's something obscure. When you want (inline) quotations on a web page, you type a special bit of text, <q>This is quoted.</q> Your web browser knows what to do with this; perhaps it makes the left quote mark into an open double-quote, for example, and the right mark into a close double-quote. Everything looks pretty.

Unless you browse the web using Internet Explorer. If you are so unlucky, you don't see any quote marks at all. The programmers have known about this bug for years and haven't bothered to fix it. I did not know this before I put up hundreds of pages of short stories up for Linda. I did them all like that, and today I found out that IE users find them hard to read because none of the dialog is quoted.

These kinds of stupid headaches I don't appreciate, and it took me quite a while to work around it.

I've used the quotes on the blog many times. Perhaps you wondered why a seemingly smart person like myself didn't know how to use quotes properly. It's not so much that I am dumb, but because your web browser sucks, and you don't even know it.