The Den of Ubiquity

Wednesday, July 31, 2002:

Freeze All Your Expressions Into Words

This will be the last post I make in probably a week, because we leave very early Friday morning for London, Ontario and then Windsor, and Thursday evening will doubtless be full of Fun Packing and Early To Bed. Though we do get back next Tuesday, and it's not impossible, though unlikely, that I will feel like writing anything then.

Thankfully, as we are travelling with both Simon(2.75 years old) and Luke(<1 month), my mom and stepfather will be on the flight with us, so we can trade off the responsibilities somewhat. Or maybe even catch some sleep(ha!). They'll be getting into town late tomorrow night, so we might not even see them until we get ready to leave. Not sure if they'll be zipping off again on Tuesday or not.

Luckily, Steve and Kelly have apparently set up a number of facilities on the other end for our convenience, or rather mostly for Simon & Luke's convenience. Strollers, cribs, that kind of thing.

This is really quite stressful for us. We're used to doing three or four highway trips a year, to Grande Prairie, Hawk Hills, Calgary, etc., but airplane trips, especially with children, are not quite so common. It's entirely possible we may freak out at some point. Also, with planes, they have their schedules which you have to keep to, as opposed to the freedom of choosing your own departure time with your own car.

Oh, well, I'm sure we will survive, and I will have much to write about on my return.

Also making the trip extra fun! is the fact that I have, once again, an ear infection, though this is not an inner ear infection this time, but outer ear. Which means probably less painful under major pressure changes, such as when taking an airplane, but a bit more painful than the inner ear one otherwise. Also, the treatment is more fun. With inner ears, all they can really do is feed you antibiotics. With the outer ear, though, you can get eardrops.

Eardrops are an experience. You have to lay down on your side, and either get someone else(preferred)or try, all by yourself, to put drops in your ear. It suggests "pulling up on the earlobe to straighten the ear canal", which of course is a bit painful if you've got an ear infection. You're also not supposed to touch the dropper to your ear, to keep it sterile. Good luck when I'm doing that myself. I need to bump my ear at some point just to know that I'm anywhere near it. My hand/ear coordination is not that great.

Then, you have to let it sit in your ear for a certain amount of time bfeore you sit up. I haven't figured this out yet. I have finally reached the conclusion that there's no way I can wait long enough for it to actually all get absorbed or dry up or whatever; some of it will have to trickle out. For all I know, all of it is trickling out. The instruction sheet that the pharmacy provided says "a few minutes", though I've been waiting much longer than that. But whatever.

I seem to remember having eardrops before, a couple of years ago when I went through my last barrage of ear infections. After I was done, I think there was a layer of dried-on/congealed stuff left by the eardrops that I had great fun peeling off. Right now it's so damn itchy I want to get in there with tweezers or something and pull out whatever I can find. But I should probably just settle for a Q-Tip, though I never really got the hang of those.

I also have just plain antibiotic pills as well, as does Nicole--because she's apparently got the inner ear infection now! Better hope that clears up at least a bit before we go on the plane...

It's been cold and rainy around here for a few days now, which is a bit of a pleasant change after the dry & hot. Today was like the first, or last, day or fall, though. Some parts of the province got snow last night. In July. I've seen snow here in every month except July, and technically I still haven't seen it. But it was quite cold and rainy today. I didn't realize that when I got dressed this morning, so I was freezing in my T-shirt at work today.

The lawn is getting greener, though, no more sprinkling necessary. Huzzah! I might have to mow it sometime in August.

When I'm driving in rain or snow, and stopping frequently, I often think about how one could improve the windshield-washer system. I mean, we do have intermittent wipers, but the things is that you have to keep changing them. When it's raining, you get more rain on your windshield when you're moving than when you're not, generally. So when you stop and start you have to keep changing the setting on your wipers. It should do that automatically, based on your speed, perhaps. You set it to the desired level, and then it varies up and down as you speed and slow.

Of course, with snow it's a different issue entirely. When you get moving, you get less snow on your windshield because it's lighter than rain, or more buoyant, anyway, and tends not to get through your slipstream. So you often only need the wipers on when you're moving. So it would need two settings, rain and snow. Maybe it could just base it on temperature, perhaps with a manual override in case you're getting freezing rain or melting snow.

I finished All That Remains, and it was a bit different in the ending, though I still predicted it fairly well. There was a neat bit tossed in at the end that was interesting enough that it felt wasted. It should have been integrated into the plot, made a crucial point, rather than a minor note after everything else has been resolved. Maybe they could have arrested his brother instead...yeah, that would've been eat. Oh, well.

After that I started, and quickly finished(within a day)Matt Hughes's Fool Me Twice, the sequel to Fools Errant. Still featuring the same world and characters, though concentrating less on bizarre and different cultures this time, and more on an overriding plot, for a little bit of variety. Filidor Vesh is continuing to grow more competent and confident; I'm not sure if there will need to be another book after this one. Delightful in the Jack Vance-Dying Earth mode.

Now I'm working on The Truth by Terry Pratchett, 25th(!) in the Discworld series and last but one in paperback. Almost caught up, after several years of trying...considering that I slacked off at book five many years ago, not that shabby. It's moving a bit slowly so far, but hopefully it'll pick up. Like all but the first few Discworld books, there are no chapters, just scene breaks, which always helps pull you along. This one features the first "paper of news", it seems, and hence the first cub reporter and all those newspaper cliches, probably.

We bought a bunch more books tonight, making our library/bookstore trip early this week. The only new one(as opposed to library booksale discards)was Robert Asprin's Myth-Ion Improbable. I just recently read the previous book, from some 7-8 years ago now, Sweet Myth-tery of Life, and in this one he explains the gap as having to do with tax battles with the IRS, and then insecurity about proceeding with the complex plotline he had so long ago planned after such a long time away. So instead he wrote a book set earlier in the timeline, so we'll see how that works out. (It costs over three times as much as the first four did when I bought them fifteen years ago, though....)

I also got, at the booksale for 25¢ each, Morgan's Passing by Anne Tyler(I liked The Accidental Tourist, so thought I'd try another), Operation Luna by the late Poul Anderson(which might be a sequel, I'm not sure--looks like fantasy, at any rate), Grailblazers by Tom Holt(a humorous British author, though reportedly not anywhere as good as Pratchett), Eccentric Circles by Rebecca Lickiss(a fantasy novel by an author I'd never heard of, just out of curiosity), Carnivores of Light And Darkness by Alan Dean Foster(I'm not Foster's biggest fan, but it sounded vaguely interesting, and it's first in a series), By Any Other Name by Spider Robinson(mostly just another repackaging of the short stories from his out-of-print collections Antinomy and Melancholy Elephants, but there might be something new in it), and Blood And Chrysanthemums by Nancy Baker(a vampire novel by a Canadian author). Probably be a long time before I get around to reading any of those...but that's not the point anymore.

The one library CD I listened to this week was Bif Naked's newest, "Purge". Bif Naked is an amazing woman, a bit more hard-rock than some female singer-songwriters out there, and very distinctive. This one's highlight so far was the single, "I Love Myself Today", but it's a solid album that most definitely goes on my wishlist. (And it adds a 27th "Hold On" to
my song title duplication list, when I get around to updating it...)

Continuing my critique of One Hundred Albums You Should Remove From Your Collection Immediately, with 51-75:

54. Tori Amos: Under The Pink

I must confess that I have never liked this one as much as "Little Earthquakes", though it does have some interesting songs, like "Space Dog" and "Waitress". It seems to be dominated, though, by piano-and-voice-driven songs that all sound the same(and go on and on, like "Yes Anastasia")to someone who doesn't want to sit there with the lyrics sheet every time through. So I will keep it, but I know exactly where they're coming from.

56. No Doubt: Tragic Kingdom

I got this album mostly because my wife wanted "Don't Speak". While I do also like "Sunday Morning" and "Spiderwebs", at least, I have to say that "Excuse Me Mr." is a horrible song, and would have kept me from buying the album for any other reason. It is somewhat diverse in its musical styles, and often I like that, but it didn't stretch quite far enough for me. I liked "Return of Saturn" better, and what I've heard so far from "Rock Steady".

57. Love & Rockets: Earth Sun Moon

Okay, you got me there. Love & Rockets have always been a guilty pleasure for me, because I harbour suspicions that they're really not that great. This one does have "No New Tale To Tell", but I'm not sure if it has enough to carry it the rest of the way. "Mirror People" isn't it.

58. Ben Folds Five: Whatever & Ever, Amen

Okay, maybe he not "deep because he plays the piano", and maybe "bitterness doesn't necessarily make good music". But maybe the piano gives it a different sound which is still worth listening to, and maybe bitterness can make good music. Totally keeping this one.

62. Green Day: Dookie

I have to say that I got this album mostly because of hearing it was good, and kind of liking "When I Come Around". I can't say that I like the album as a whole, though there are one or two other decent songs for sure. But I'm willing to consider it overrated.

63. Rush: Moving Pictures

This album is so much a part of my teenage years that I couldn't part with it. Sorry. It has aged a little bit, but it is a high point in their early work.

64. Pink Floyd: Dark Side of The Moon

Yeah, it's okay. I like the fact that "Money" is in 7/4, I like the buildup in "Eclipse". The rest of it may be an example of wondrous accomplishments in production for its time, but that doesn't make it all deathless music.

65. Sarah McLachlan: Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, Surfacing

If I get to keep one of these, I will definitely keep "Fumbling Towards Ecstasy", and I think it does make a difference. "Fumbling" had some good, powerful songs, like the title track and "Hold On". "Surfacing" was a bunch of pap, led off by a song saying "goths are cool".

69. U2: War

Another album that perhaps hasn't aged well, and it sure ain't "soul music", but I'll still keep mine.

70. Gin Blossoms: New Miserable Experience

I think I have this one, but I'm not sure; I get their titles mixed up. Not a great endorsement, eh? I do like some of their songs, but yeah, otherwise I tend to find them dispensible.

71. Counting Crows: August & Everything After

Kind of like the above. Some good singles, but I'm not sure about the album tracks.

72. Offspring: Smash

Great singles, but not sure about the album tracks. I'm noticing a pattern here.

74. The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

It's not my favourite Beatles album any more, but I think it was when I was a kid, so maybe that's why it's worn on me. I liked the movie, too.* And what's so precious about "rock and roll" that they should have been mindful of it? I've never been a big fan of the genre, particularly--I prefer what it turned into post-Beatles.

75. Sinéad O'Connor: Am I Not Your Girl?

This was when we really began to wonder about Sinéad, and we haven't really stopped wondering since, have we? Uneven, but has some good points.

And counting down my favourite songs:

438. The Bangles: In A Different Light, from Different Light

This album has continued to grow on me over the years, but this was one of my favourite album tracks after I first got the album. It doesn't feature Susanna Hoffs on lead(her voice sometimes gets to me), and it's got good use of metaphor, as well as harmony and propulsive music.

437. Los Lobos: Kiko & The Lavender Moon, from Kiko

Los Lobos go all over the chart for me, and I haven't really forgiven them for "Shakin' Shakin' Shakes", but this song's dark tone and unique musical accompaniment(french horns!)push it way above their typical work, and the mysterious lyrics complement it perfectly.

We never speak, we only acquiesce --Jane Siberry, "Dancing Class"

Aaron // 11:02 p.m. Clix me!

Sunday, July 28, 2002:

You Shine Above Me, I Reflect Below

My goodness, I really need to post something. My sitemeter stats have dropped down very low--I had only five hits on my page today.

Sleep deprivation hit me pretty hard in the past few days, though. Friday night I went to bad right after Simon, at 9:00, and had an almost uninterrupted sleep until 5:30 Saturday morning, when Nicole informed me it was definitely time for me to take Luke. So I did. A lot of the time I go to sleep at 10:30 or 11:00(or later--bad me)and then toss and turn for an hour before I get to sleep, and wake up several times during the night as well.

Last night I went over to Darren's for the Heraldry Meeting(more about that later), and when I got home, after 10:00, Nicole told me that she had had a horrible evening, with Luke crying his head off and Simon being a brat.

Simon has lately decided that spitting is fun. Nicole taught him to spit a few months ago so he could brush his teeth with real toothpaste, but now he thinks it's fun to spit on people. Probably because of Luke spitting up on us. So we keep having to discipline him for that, which right now consists of taking his clothes off, and then putting him up in his room with the door closed. That seems to chasten him enough. But with Nicole tied down trying to feed Luke, Simon was able to run free a little more, and Nicole was run ragged trying to look after both of them. So I owe her big time for my evening of freedom.

Tonight I had a nap right after supper, but I woke up a little before 8:00, to hear Luke crying his head off. Not wanting a repeat of Saturday night, I went downstairs to help her out. And I did have to put Simon in his room, too. Brat. Three months left before he turns three, though I don't imagine his "terrible twos" will disappear magically with three candles on his cake.

We're not quite sure whether Luke is developing colic or not. He's around the right age for it--three weeks was when he really started doing this. But apparently most healthy babies still have a 15-minute-to-an-hour period where they cry for no apparent reason and can't be consoled. Colic is different in that it runs for 2-3 hours, or even longer. Luke seemed to go for somewhere between an hour and two hours.

Nobody really knows what causes colic, either. It seems to be associated with gas, but it is not caused by having spicy breast milk or anything, or even with being insufficiently burped. The most plausible theory seems to be that it stems from the perceptual filters built in to newborn babies starting to recede, so they are suddenly bombarded with more stimuli than before, and by evening it gets so overwhelming that all they can do is cry. I don't think this is proven yet, though.

We really hope Luke is not colicky, though. I seem to remember that Simon had similar crying jags, but he never developed full-blown colic, but I'm not sure if they were as bad. It was almost three years ago, now, and time dulls the memory.

The Heraldry Meeting did turn out to be just me and Darren, with none of the SCA people that had expressed an interest. Bohdana and Sophia were there too; Sophia must be about seven months old by now, and is starting to be very alert. It's hard to believe sometimes that Luke will be like that in a few months himself, because once again my memories of Simon as a baby are a bit blurred.

I couldn't say that Darren and I stuck strictly to the heraldry topic. We meandered all over the place, though we did talk about it some of the time--after all, it is one of our common interests that we don't share with too many other people.

Darren was deriding Leonard Nimoy's acting abilities at one point, and I mentioned that he had played Tevye in a production of "Fiddler On The Roof". This led to a discussion of an alternate version of the play with a persecuted Vulcan village in the Klingon Empire. Poor Tevyk has three daughters, T'Zeitel, T'Hodel, and T'Chava, who are all going into ponn far in quick succession. The tailor Motek has to fight the butcher Lazak for T'Zeitel's hand, and T'Chava falls in love with a Klingon and is cast out by her father.

He also told me that "Attack of The Clones" was good, so now I don't know what to think.

He lent me some heraldry books; he apparently has two copies of the huge The Art of Heraldry by A.C. Fox-Davies, of which he says The Complete Guide To Heraldry is an abridgement, so he lent me one. I wondered if he was going to give it to me outright, but then I realized that each book must be fairly expensive.

And he lent me some CDs, one by Todd Butler, a guy who was busking at the recent Street Performer's Festival--obviously a homemade CD, since it's even in one of those slim CD cases. From the sample he played me, it sounded like mostly parodies with politically-oriented lyrics--Canadian politics, of course. Also a comedy album by Edmonton's own troupe, Three Dead Trolls In A Baggie, "Steaming Pile of Skit", and an album that looks kind of Celtic by the song titles, by a band named Scrüj MacDuhk. Wonder how long they've got before Di$ney's on their ass.

I finished reading Voyager even before my last post, and merely forgot to mention it. It was good, and had a bit of an abrupt ending, so I understand why readers were waiting so eagerly for The Drums of Autumn. I'll try to hold myself off for a few more months, by which time The Fiery Cross will likely be in paperback.

After that I decided to read the second mage in the Passing of The Techno-Mages series. I don't read Star Trek or Star Wars books much(anymore), but I do like Babylon 5 ones, from what I've read. This series is written by Jeanne Cavelos, whom I'd never heard of(as opposed to Peter David, or even J. Gregory Keyes), but her writing seems to pick up in the middle of this book(whose title is Summoning Light, by the way). At that point it is crossing over with the techno-mage episode of Babylon 5, so it has to account for actual dialogue from the episode, though retconning it to fit with facts that J. Michael Straczysnki(who contributes outlines for all the books)probably thought of later.

Now I'm reading All That Remains by Patricia Cornwell, the third of the Kay Scarpetta books. I'm over halfway through that, and it's starting to build up momentum as Dr. Scarpetta picks up clues, the kind that seem only vaguely related to the murders at first but keep leading down a trail that eventually ends at the solution. At which point the killer will probably try to attack her, though that happened in the first two books so I'm almost hoping Cornwell will have thought of something new.

After that, I don't know. I got A Prayer For Owen Meany from the library this week, on impulse; they have a couple of theme racks which I often check out, and this one was in "Tear-Jerkers". I was gratified to notice that Guy Gavriel Kay's Tigana and The Wandering Fire were also there, though I hope that they had also put out The Summer Tree, which comes before The Wandering Fire in the Fionavar Tapestry series.

At the bookstore we picked up Through Wolf's Eyes by Jane Lindskold; we had read one of hers before, Marks of Our Brothers, which was pretty good, and this one sounded interesting. From the back cover blurb, it sounds like a girl raised by wolves is returned by her family to the humans, where she may the lost heir to the throne. She is caught up in all sorts of intrigue, but apparently life among wolves has prepared her for this... Who knows when I'll ever read it, of course--the time lapse between buying and reading, even for my favourite authors, can be a long time. I've just got so much to read... Library books get attention faster because they're due back sooner.

Now for more of
One Hundred Albums You Should Remove from Your Collection Immediately. Let's see what I think of the second 25:

26. U2: Zooropa

This album may be a bit uneven, and doesn't measure up to "Achtung Baby", but it's got some good songs, and shows that U2 doesn't rest on their laurels, anyway. Critics just can't be happy, I guess--if your first album is innovative and your second sounds the same, they blast you for rehashing, but if you explore the wrong new direction, they blast you for that. This may be why I don't really want to be a critic.

28. Red Hot Chili Peppers: Blood Sugar Sex Magik

This one I can sort of agree with, because while it does have "Under The Bridge" and "Breaking The Girl", it also has a bunch of crap, and "Sir Psycho Sexy", which I for sure can't play at work except on very, very low volume. The Chili Peppers have some great songs, but maybe I just need a greatest hits album or something, because I don't think they tend to supply enough for a full album at a time.

29. Macy Gray: On How Life Is

Another one that's just on my wishlist, not in my collection, but it got on my wishlist at least, despite Ms. Gray's horrible voice. Somehow it works just the same. Maybe it was overhyped to all hell, and certainly the followup isn't as good, but this one is okay.

31. Chemical Brothers: Dig Your Own Hole

They say, "You bought it because you like rock and would like hip hop if it weren't for all the rapping that tends to accompany it." Well, that's more or less accurate. Like there's a law against not liking the vast majority of rap music? (Is there much of a difference between Rap and Hip-Hop? I've always heard them used interchangably.) I just bought it because I liked "Setting Sun" and "Block Rockin' Beats".

34. Dave Brubeck: Time Out

I don't have this one, nor have I heard it, but reading it on this list made me take it out of the library, so there.

36. Prince: Emancipation

This one isn't on my wishlist either, because I think that out of the three CDs on this album, only one(I think it was the second one--the one with "Face Down" on it, anyway)was worth keeping. Until they release them separately, I don't think I'll be picking this one up.

39. Wilco: Being There

My biggest beef with this album(also on my wishlist)is just the fact that it's a two-CD set by virtue of being about ten minutes longer than would fit on one CD. I hate that. I used to think Wilco was badly overhyped, but I never really listened to them, and with this album I decided I like them just fine. And I keep hearing good things about "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" too. (I didn't like the one Son Volt album I listened to, so there.)

42. The Police: Zenyatta Mondatta

Doesn't bother me much, though I do like "Ghost In The Machine" better. That one is suspiciously not on their list, though they do suggest getting rid of everything after "Regatta De Blanc".

47. Smashing Pumpkins: Melon Collie And The Infinite Sadness

I just bought this one, so I've only listened to it a couple of times, and maybe I'm not going to like all of it(more like Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk" than The White Album or "The Wall"), but "1979" and "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" at least will keep me listening to it for now.

Now for more of that wacky countdown of my favourite songs:

440. Pete Shelley: No Moon..., from Heaven And The Sea

I like this one for its incredible drum section, which frequently punctuate the song with huge bass or snare drum rolls, culminating in a psychedelic bridge. Shelley's lyrics are also pretty good, using the sea/moon relationship as a metaphor without actually explicitly stating it, except in the title.

439. The Proclaimers: Sunshine On Leith, from Sunshine On Leith

A wonderfully sweet song from the Proclaimers, which is mostly one verse repeated twice, omitting some lines the second time through.

You break fingers, I'll break thumbs; you play glockenspiel, I'll play drums. --The Beautiful South

Aaron // 10:59 p.m. Clix me!

Thursday, July 25, 2002:

Sometimes It Rages Even When It's Calm

A few days ago(already my brain has lost some of the details)I came upstairs(or was it downstairs?), probably to get a glass of water in the kitchen. Nicole had put on the dishwasher to run, which was immediately evident because it's not a built-in model, and when it's moved in front of the sink it takes up about 80% of the width of the kitchen.

AS I actually entered the kitchen, my foot went "splash". I looked down and noticed that the floor was wet. Then I looked straight ahead and noticed that the sink that the dishwasher had been set up to drain into was quite, quite full. And there was still water trickling out around the slightly loose dishwasher hookup(which always happens until you shut the tap off).

Luckily, I have some experience in what to do in these situations. I emptied the main floor bathroom of towels and set them to soaking up as much water as I could. Then I went to remove the blockage from the sink and let it drain. Plunging my arm in was a bad idea because the water was still pretty bloody hot. But ingenuity set in, and I grabbed the barbecue tongs and found the blockage. It turned out to be a dishrag which had evidently slipped into the drain at some point.

The floor dried off pretty easily--those towels must have been pretty absorbent, and also the dishwasher was on its drying cycle so it was giving off a fair bit of heat. So no harm done.

I remember a similar episode from my childhood. I had put the dishwasher on while my mother was out, and thought I would be so clever as to leave a pot in the sink to get rinsed out under the periodic emissions from the dishwasher hookup. When I came to check on it an hour or so later, I discovered the unwisdom of doing that, because it had, of course, blocked the drain. So I got the towels and I cleaned up the floor and counters, all before my mother came home, so when she did I told her proudly of the problem and how I had solved it. And she was glad that I had dealt with it so competently.

I had omitted one small fact, though--the cutlery drawer had somehow gotten some water in it as well. It was right next to the sink, and I don't know if it was not quite closed, or what, but everything in there was soaked too. So my mother's pride in my resourcefulness evaporated as we had to take everything out and dry it, and then dry out the drawer itself.

Then there's the time I was watching the "Shogun" miniseries, and forgot about the teapot I'd put on the stove, but I can see we're out of time for embarrassing childhood memories, so on to another topic.

There've been a lot of cleaners going through the office recently. Well, we're hiring new ones, I guess, so they're coming to look at the place before they tell us how much it'll cost.

The owners of the building have finally gotten around to doing some cleaning, too, despite having only owned it for a couple of years now. They've done lots of landscaping, but not much else.

This week they were cleaning the outside of the windows. I was eating lunch when they cleaned the lunchroom windows, fortuitously enough. First they sprayed it with water--I thought initially that the sprinkler(which had been running that morning)was somehow hitting it, but then it stopped. And the mop? brush? whatever you call it, came up, on a long handle, of course. After it sudsed up the window, then the squeegee came up to wipe it clean. Just like a car windshield, I guess.

It was really quite funny to watch, though, because, being on such long handles, they were obviously quite unwieldy, and moved around quite jerkily. My overwhelming impression was of a puppet show. "It's Mop-Head and Squeegee-Man!" They bobbed around from window to window, doing their jobs, and all they needed was dialogue. Pity I didn't get it on film.

Today I spent some time at work playing around--I mean, exploring the possibilities of--wikis.

You might be unfamiliar with the term. I'd run across the wikis a while ago, probably looking for something Java-oriented, but had mostly forgotten about them. Today I was looking to see if there were any sites about refactoring in Visual Basic, and the best possibility that showed up was on the wiki site.

The wiki concept is fairly simple, but also fairly original. Dating back to about 1995, which is in the early childhood of the web, it was initially designed to be an extensible discussion forum about programming, and specifically "programming patterns". Here's the
welcome page.

The wiki is kind of novel because it consists of a collection of pages(this is not the novel part), which anyone can edit at any time, and anyone can add more pages to. At the bottom of each wiki page is an "Edit Page" link which brings up the text of the page in wiki format, which is quite different from HTML for some reason.

Wiki pages are keyed by names which are multiple words concatenated together, and all capitalized, like MontyPython or UserName or WhatHaveYou. And if you enter a word formatted in such a manner into the text on a wiki page, then it will link to that wiki page, if it exists, or will provide you a link to create a new one.

So in some ways it's sort of like the alt. hierarchy of Usenet at its heyday, with everyone able to create whatever groups they want. Though wiki pages' contents do not really expire. It's totally susceptible to abuse, as you might imagine, but it probably wouldn't be difficult to add a login/password combination to the whole thing.

There are supposed to be other wikis out there as well. The one above, the original one, is mostly devoted to computer topics, with toleration for some off-topicness. Something with a totally free topic set could be really cool. Or overwhelmed by crud, according to Sturgeon's Law, but nothing's perfect.

I had a couple of long-awaited followups in my library CD list this week. One was "Vapour Trails" by Rush, which I only heard about through Tom at unproductivity. He had all sorts of nice things to say about it, especially compared to "Test For Echo", as I recall.

Well, I'm not that keen on it, particularly. My first listen was at work, not under ideal conditions, because I had to play it on quite low volume, and I didn't like it at all, but I thought I'd try it again at home, which is what I'm doing right now. So far it's a bit better, but still not great. I'm not a fan of Rush's new heavy sound, and "Secret Touch" sounds like they borrowed Collective Soul's guitar player. "The Stars Look Down" is an okay song, though. It'll still probably end up in my collection someday, but it's far from a priority.

I was more pleased by New Order's "Get Ready", which sounds like a worthy addition to their oeuvre. When it comes to New Order I like best their singles, collected on "Substance"(and then not the really early ones--only from "Perfect Kiss" on, really), and not their albums as much. I think this is an above-average New Order album.

Several people have posted the link to One Hundred Albums You Should Remove From Your Colletion Immediately, but I first saw it on Randy's site(which, with any justice, I will have remembered to put on my sidebar).

These lists always sort of vaguely annoy me. I have a book called The 50 Worst Rock 'N' Roll Records of All Time, too. I figure that the only reason to slag off on records you don't like, in public, to try to come across as if your taste is universal and nobody with any taste should like them--to say, in a word, that they suck--is to show off your vocabulary of vitriol, and your arrogance.

I have a fair proportion of the albums on the list, I must say, so let me discuss those here(don't confuse this with the other countdown, coming later):

1. The Clash: Combat Rock

Well, I was never that attached to this one--I think that "London Calling" is a more solid album--but it has some decent songs on it as well. I've never been that convinced by the argument that an album may be good, but it's an inferior album for the band. It can still be good, though.

2. U2: The Joshua Tree

You know, I can sort of see this one. I am getting to the point where I can't stand "With Or Without You", overplayed as it is, and there are a few undistinguished tracks on side two. But "Running To Stand Still" and "Where The Streets Have No Name" redeem this one for me. As far the reviewers go, they probably just don't like U2 and are taking cheap shots at their most popular albums.

3. Nirvana: Nevermind

I haven't had this album for very long, and frankly at one point I would have been amazed to know that I would later own it. But I think it's a solid album, better than any other Nirvana I heard, so I'm gonna keep it.

5. The Beatles: Let It Be

This is indeed a very uneven album, and perhaps not the best swan song(or was that "Abbey Road"? I can never remember which one was released last), but it's still got great songs. "Two of Us" is like a summing-up of the whole Lennon/McCartney partnership, and while the title track and "The Long & Winding Road" are indeed pure McCartney(one of the reviewers' accusations, because everyone knows Paul McCartney has always sucked), there's also "I Dig A Pony" and "Across The Universe" for pure Lennon, and even "I Me Mine" for Harrison. Sorry, I'm gonna keep this one, too.

6. The Replacements: Tim

I'm not sure where they get the ordering for this list, but I think it's funny because The Replacements also had a "Let It Be". And apparently most people think that that album was better than this one; I've never agreed. Maybe it's not as punk or hardcore or whatever, but "Waitress In The Sky" and "Swingin' Party" are great tracks, and "Hold My Life" punks out pretty well too.

7. The Police: Synchronicity

I'd have to say that "Every Breath You Take" goes into the same bin as "With Or Without You", and some of the tracks are just silly, but the title track, "King of Pain", "Wrapped Around Your Finger", etc.... Maybe it's not the greatest final statement of the band, but it's still a decent collection of songs.

8. Lou Reed: Transformer

The reviewers make fun of silly lyrics, which has never been a sticking point for me. As long as I can sing along with them, I don't care what the hell they say. This is not really a favourite album, but I like it just fine.

12. Led Zeppelin: Physical Graffiti

Okay, now this one I have seriously considered. "Kashmir" is the only song on it I really like, and it is in general far too heavy for me. A lot of people do consider it a great album, I have been fairly consistently disappointed in it.

13. Stereolab: Transient Random-Noise Bursts With Announcements

I'd also agree with this one to some extent, though I'd keep "Emperor Tomato Ketchup", and will still try other Stereolab albums--but this one is too noisy for me.

14. Oasis: What's The Story, Morning Glory?

Oh, c'mon. It's got three great singles, at least, "Champagne Supernova", "Wonderwall" and "Don't Look Back In Anger". That's all I ask for in an album, really.

19. Beck: Midnite Vultures

Actually, I don't have this one yet, but I want it. It was such a turnaround from "Odelay" and "Mellow Gold", going totally disco, but still being Beck. Sort of like Ween in their better moments, being totally faithful to a type of music while perverting its core.

I'll stop there, and maybe go on to the rest of the list later, if I feel like it. It'll give me something to write about if I feel uninspired, anyway.

442. Gordon Lightfoot: Sundown, from Gord's Gold

Gordon Lightfoot doesn't quite occupy a ranking spot in the Canadian music scene for me, certainly not up there with Leonard Cohen or Bruce Cockburn, but he has had some great songs. This one I probably remember being played on the radio as a kid, but I still like it.

441. Stevie Nicks: Rock A Little(Go Ahead Lily), from Rock A Little

After the propulsive opening of the album, this song is more laid-back, and maybe I haven't quite figured out the story to this one, but it's got a great moody feel to it.

'Maybe someday we'll settle down.' 'Yeah. Like silt.' --The Frantics

Aaron // 10:38 p.m. Clix me!

Sunday, July 21, 2002:

This Place Is Always Such A Mess

I keep forgetting to mention certain things in my entries, like the weather. You must surely all be on the edges of your seats, wondering whether we are still hiding out in the basement from sweltering heat and stifling humidity. I am glad to say that we are not.

On the evening of the Cult of Pain meeting(last Wednesday, I believe), it started out sunny and hot, but by 9:00 dark clouds filled the sky and we had a telephone report of hailstones in the west end. Since we were meeting outside, we set a new meeting quickly and dispersed, without even hot tubbing, since I imagine that's not much fun in a hailstorm.

It turns out we didn't get any rain that night, but the next few days showed a return to the more normal pattern, where either it's sunny in the morning, clouding over later, and thundershowering in the evening, or just cloudy all day. And even when it's been clear, it's been nice and windy to cool things off. So the weather has been pretty good for several days now.

Nonetheless, when we saw fans on display in Zellers on Saturday, we grabbed one, a "pedestal" model with a remote control--how decadent. I assembled it tonight, which was a mildly unnerving experience, because I'm used to thinking of fans as sealed units; having to screw on the fan blade myself and then close it up in its little round cage made me just that little bit less secure. Because I know me, I know I'm not Mr. Tool Guy(though I was able to replace my second windshield wiper by myself), so if I put it together it can't be perfect. Still, it seems to be okay so far.

We watched "Fight Club" over Friday and Saturday nights, and that was definitely an experience. It was at least fitfully amazing, like the early scenes with the self-help groups. Things got a little squalid, visually, after that, with the Fight Club basements and the dilapidated house they were living in. But the ending was beautiful and came totally out of left field, and was one of those things, like "The Sixth Sense" and "A Beautiful Mind", where you want to rewatch the whole thing just to catch all the little clues you didn't see, and reinterpret every scene according to your new knowledge. (I never had to do that with, say, "The Crying Game", because it had already been spoiled for me, and I was watching for clues first time through.)

Some of Brad Pitt's speeches were so incredibly Gen-X. The whole thing about working shit jobs while all the older people have the good jobs, or being trapped in consume culture, could be taken right from Howe & Strauss. It is nice to see an adult Gen-X movie, because let's face it, Gen-X "officially" consists of people aged from 21 to 41 now.

Our movie guide gave it a "Turkey" rating, which just goes to show that they don't get it. Maybe it's not for all tastes, but they missed the fact that there was anything worthwhile besides brutal violence to the film. Makes you wonder whether they watched it or just sat through the previews.

Helena Bonham Carter was interesting to watch, possibly because I've only really seen her in ads on Bravo! for the movie "Queen Jane", where she has this incredibly childlike face. It's still there, but you can only see it in certain flashes of Marla's character.

A few more library CDs this week, if I can remember them...most of them not too impressive.

On Derwin's advice I went seeking out some more recent Oasis(I hadn't heard much of their since "The Masterplan" and "Be Here Now"), starting with "Standing On The Shoulder of Giants". It was okay, but I didn't find any completely arresting songs like "Wonderwall" or "Champagne Supernova". But I'll try another one sometime and see if that one works out any better for me.

The others were even less likeable--Full Devil Jacket's self-titled album was, well, a bit more accessible than your average sludge-metal, having a few lighter ballad-type tunes, and even some flashes of humour, but I'll still pass. The Silos' "Susan Across The Ocean" made little impression upon me, being just some kind of alterna-rock or something. Somethin' For The People's "This Time It's Personal" was fairly lite R&B, with a little bit of rap, and the lyrics were, I'll confess, not entirely "I'll love you forever" stuff--some of them were "You cheated on me, baby" stuff as well.*

The best, though, was Danielle Dax's "Blast The Human Flower". I'd snagged a copy of "Dark Adapted Eye" some time ago, and I like it a lot. This album was just as diverse and witty, still somewhere between Kate Bush and Siouxsie & The Banshees. Sadly, though, this was apparently her major-label debut, after several independent albums, and when it tanked they dumped her, so she hasn't turned out much recently, which is so too bad.

I was going to scan those pictures of Simon etc. today with the scanner I brought home from work, but it is being perverse and refuses to cooperate. I hooked it up to my computer's parallel port and plugged it in to the power bar, and its power light came on. I thought that was odd, but then it refused to turn itself off if I pressed the power button. I tried to install it, and it seemed to install fine, but the scanner software does not work. Also, at some point during the process, the power light has gone off, so now I really don't know what it's doing.

Maybe I broke it or something. Hopefully Edna won't make me pay for it if I did. Besides, she can't prove it wasn't broken before I brought it home, either... I just don't have a clue.

I wonder if there's other scanning software I can try. Maybe it's just that one program...

Down with the count...

444. Cyndi Lauper: Change of Heart, from True Colours

Most of the critics seem to think that Cyndi Lauper was a one-shot with "She's So Unusual", and once she actually started writing her own songs she went on a one-way trip into suckville. Me, I think she was just getting started. This song, from her second album, is powerful in a way that the mostly fluffy first album never managed. It's got resounding drums in start-stop rhythms interacting with the vocal and guitar lines to make it propulsive, and yet somehow manages to be wistful.

443. The Wallflowers: One Headlight, from Bringing Down The Horse

I'm not quite sure what Jakob is talking about in the chorus, but it's catchy and singable, and the bassline just draws me right in. A well-crafted pop song that unfortunately stand above the rest of the album.

A knife in the hand is worth two in the back.

Aaron // 10:34 p.m. Clix me!

Thursday, July 18, 2002:

I Was Afraid To Go On In This City

No, you're not hallucinating--I'm blogging again after only one day!

What's up with that? Well, I just got back from the Edmonton
Blog MEETUP, so I felt inspired. Also to try to post before anyone else does.*

Limegirl was the hostess, with her trust companion Forever North, though the event was held at an Internet cafe just off Whyte Ave. There was apparently smoking allowed, though, so I don't think it would be the greatest choice for the next meeting. (This is supposed to become a monthly thing...) When I got there(at 7:15, but that was the shortest turnaround time I could manage today)there was also a guy named Randy and a woman named Steph. Taz showed up after that. Steph was a writer and photographer who was interested in using blogging to tie them together, or something. I think we convinced her, though blogging was not the principle topic of the evening. That would definitely be Pop Culture.

Pop Culture discussions usually consist of someone mentioning a band, or movie, or TV show, or whatever, and then the various people indicating whether they know about it or haven't a clue. Then those who know about it(and like it--if you don't like it, you have to pretend to not know about it)try to convince everyone else that it's great and totally awesome and they should investigate it, if not go out and buy/watch/see it right away.

"Randy" turned out to be Randy Reichardt, whom I've known of for quite a few years now, and probably met at ConSpec. He was one of the organizers of ConText '89, the written-SF-oriented SF convention where I met Nicole, so I probably owe him something for that. He's also involved with some kind of a science fiction collection at the U. of Alberta library(where he works), as I recall.

Anyway, Steph and I had to leave fairly early because we both have small children, and by the fact that Randy has already posted about the meetup on his blog(unless he did it at the cafe)means that it probably didn't last too much longer after that. But it was fun, and hopefully it will happen again.

Though if it keeps happening on Thursday nights, it may come second to Friends once the new season starts. I wonder if allows changing of nights? Or, for that matter, why does it have to be the same night in every city? Or every month? If you're trying to schedule 85 people, then there's no way you can fit it into everyone's schedule, so you might as well just pick a date and see who can show up, but with 6 people there's room to maneuver.

I forgot to mention last night that I finally finished In The Company of Others, and it did pick up a bit by the end. It felt less like a failed C.J. Cherryh attempt; there's no way Cherryh could have pulled off Malley's character, for instance. It's just not in her style.

Now I've started reading Voyager by Diana Gabaldon, third in the series(which doesn't have an official name as far as I know). It's almost on the verge of historical romance, but not quite, because it's got time travel elements which are dealt with fairly clearly, not just some kind of mystical hand-waving. So I am enjoying them, though I don't know if I'll be waiting on tenterhooks for the next book like so many other people I know(most of them female). So maybe it is a girl thing, but I'm enjoying them better than The Mists of Avalon, say, so it's got some guy appeal too. Or maybe it just appeals to the feminine side of me.*

Thinking of the pop culture thing makes me think there should be some kind of interactive list of interests out there on the web. You know, people could sign up and then there would be a big list, completely extensible, of possible topics. Band, authors, movies, etc. So you could go there and note down which authors you like, which you don't like, and which you haven't heard of, and so on for each category.

Actually, to be ideal these should all be on little cards that you carry around with you. You hand them out to people, and they interface with their portable personal computing device and you instantly know who you can have "That was great, wasn't it?" about, who you should avoid, who you can recommend, etc. (And perhaps it should subdivide into books/albums too--I like early Tom Waits better than later Tom Waits, late Beatles better than early Beatles, etc.)

Something like is something like that, but not quite comprehensive enough, because it only does music. There should be something for the whole spectrum of pop culture.

On to the countdown:

446. The Beatles: While My Guitar Gently Weeps, from The Beatles

This one is indeed a classic Harrisong, so I don't think I need to say too much here; my favourite part of the song is near the end when he sings "Look at you all", and then is silent for the rest of the line. I always like those kinds of things, where the pattern of the song is broken to emphasize part of it.

445. Pat McCurdy: Oh Man I Understand, from Pat In Person

Another song from the obscure musician from Milwaukee; this one is made to be played live, because for full effect you need the audience to be singing "Oh man, I understand" back at you after each line. That way you can get a built-in support group. And the great thing about Pat concerts, as I understand, is the loyal fans(PatHeads)that attend most of them and know all the songs and can sing along with them as appropriate.

The only thing you've got going for you is your willingness to humiliate yourself. --As Good As It Gets

Aaron // 10:36 p.m. Clix me!

Wednesday, July 17, 2002:

Afterglow In A Distant Row

Four days again. Maybe this is my new schedule. With Luke's arrival I'll probably end up having about half as much time to myself, right? Well, maybe not quite that bad. I often find that when I'm home all day I end up getting less actually done(at least, fun stuff)than I do when I'm only home in the evening. I commit to doing more chores(I have to be in a very weird mood to want to wash dishes in the evening), we go out shopping or something, or Nicole wants to try to get more writing done, or have a nap.

It's okay, though. I'll try to do one tonight, even though I just got back from a Cult of Pain meeting, and am considering going to the
Blog Meetup tomorrow night.

Fairly low-key meeting tonight, at Sue & Karen's, and outside because of the oppressive heat. They have a wonderfully shady back yard, with a garden that represents a lot of work both on their parts and that of the previous owners. They have a sinuous hump of earth running down the middle which, it has been decided, is a buried dragon. I think they should put some kind of smoke machine at one end with a remote control, just to complete the illusion.

We talked about collaboration, which was interesting because at one point there were six of us there--Sue & Karen, who share a house, Ann & Barb, who have been friends for a long time, and me & Nicole. And all of us had tried collaborating at some point, or were even trying it at present; furthermore, each pair had one member who wrote from an outline and one who didn't. I don't know if that's the ideal combination or not. I don't even know if any pair of collaborators do it quite the same--heck, I think most writers do it differently from other writers period, so collaborating should be the same kind of thing.

Nicole & I don't tend to sit down and write together, but either pass something back and forth between us, or even trade drafts. Okay, we haven't done it a lot, so there's not much to generalize from, but I just don't think I'd like working over someone's shoulder, or vice versa. Of course, I don't like writing that much anyway, or at least I never seem to be willing to make time for it. Have I started revising The Shadow & The Flame yet? I haven't even reread it since I finished it. I have proved that I can write if I force myself to, but I just find myself unwilling to exert that force.

Oh, well. There are more writers out there right now than could possibly get published anyway. If there's someone else who really likes to write, why should I compete with them for market space?*

My headaches are still not completely gone, and now I seem to have picked up Simon's sore throat and cough. It doesn't really feel like a cold, just a throat infection or something. It's very raw and phlegmy, and I'm constantly clearing my throat and still sound hoarse. My headaches were a little worse on Tuesday, so with the combination I stayed home sick. I'm sucking Halls all day again.

My appetite has fallen off a bit recently, too. I'm not sure if this is a good or bad thing, a side effect of the antibiotics or taking too many Advil, or the result of throwing up back on the 5th, but I just can't seem to eat as much as I used to. I have to practically force myself to eat a dessert after supper, or even several hours later. And my servings seem to be getting smaller, too. It's probably a good thing for my diet, but I hope it's not indicative of anything more serious.

I didn't really talk about my birthday yet, I guess, since that was on Sunday. It was extremely low-key--I only got a few presents. Well, either the RAM or the Billboard chart book was my present from Nicole. Simon got me a kite, which I guess we'll have to take out someday and try. I was never very good at kites, at least as a kid, but I suppose we can try it. Simon has the book Curious George Flies A Kite, which may be where he got the idea.

My grandma got me a new dress shirt, which I already knew about because she phoned me to confirm the sizes. It might be a nice one to wear to Steve's wedding. My mom got me a book, Eunoia by Christian Bök. It is a strange book, since Bök is apparently inspired by the Oulipo, with their emphasis on wordplay over content. The first part of the book has five chapters, A,E,I,O, and U. And each of them is written using that particular vowel and no others. Remarkably, they all form fairly coherent narratives, if not necessarily excessively meaningful. At least, the ones I read so far, A and E, but I have skimmed the other ones as well. Really, it's a hoot to read, and I may add some of its sentences to my tagline file.

Then we went out to rent some movies. We ended up with "Gosford Park", "The Majestic", and "Fight Club". "Gosford Park" was a little hard to follow at first, with so many characters and so little exposition, but eventually we got enough clear to mostly be able to figure out the plot and what was going on. We had figured out one of the murderers, at least. Good acting throughout, I would say.

"The Majestic" was a bit slow, and maybe a bit manipulative emotionally, but it was a decent straight role for Jim Carrey. He hasn't quite pulled the Tom Hanks transition into dramatic actor, and I don't know if he ever will, but he restrained himself fairly well. Its final message, placed in the McCarthy Witch Trials, does seem to be particularly relevant in the disturbing climate in the U.S. today, though I don't think that could have been intentional from the movie's inception.

"Fight Club" will probably be Friday or Saturday. I've heard some interesting things about that movie, so I'm curious about it. I'm not sure what to expect, to be honest.

I haven't updated my web pages(besides this one)in a while, and I really should. I should mention Luke, for one thing. And I keep thinking that since I am focusing so much of my web attention on my blog right now, I should make that more clear from my web page design. Though it would be a lot of work and I don't think I want to do it all right now. But maybe a bit at a time...

Nicole wanted me to scan in some pictures of Luke(and family)to send to people. I took them to work, but as I rather suspected, we are still in the situation of having two scanners that we can't use. All our computers use Windows 2000, see, and the scanners don't work with it. I don't really need, or have space for, a scanner of my own, but I should ask Brenda how much she'd want for it.

Anyway, as I did last time I wanted to scan pictures, I brought the scanner home, and probably this weekend I'll set it up and scan some pictures. It did occur to me, just now, that I could actually try to find some pictures to scan and put up on my web pages. What a concept. I should ask Nicole to pick some out for me, because frankly my photographic impulses are fairly rudimentary. I don't mind taking the odd picture, but once they're taken, I don't really care if they go into albums, or if our relatives get copies, and which ones they get. All that I am willing to place on Nicole's shoulders, because she does care.

I don't know if I've mentioned that Simon's current favourite phrase is "What's wrong with..." If he asks for milk and I give him juice instead, he says, "What's wrong with milk?" If he wants to go downstairs and I don't, he says, "What's wrong with going downstairs?" And so on. It's the beginning of the "Why?" phase, I guess, with a different phrasing. I am sort of looking forward to explaining to him why the sky's blue, and things like that. Maybe not where babies come from yet, though.*

Sometimes, though he just says, "What's wrong with me?" And then I begin to feel like I'm a bit too hard on him. I'm going to give him an inferiority complex. I play all these hard games, like Chip's Challenge, on the computer, and when he tries them he can't do them very well. He complains, and I confess I get annoyed with him, peremptorily tell him what he should have done and why he can't finish that level any more. I hope he proves me wrong, because quite frankly he can't do a lot right now, but I bet he can do better than most kids his age, and I don't want him thinking he's stupid for the rest of his life because he can't figure things out right now.

Hopefully he doesn't take it as seriously as I fear. Hopefully he's still pretty resilient and won't be scarred for life. Hopefully.

On that cheerful note, let's go on to another installment of that countdown of my 750 favourite songs:

448. Blondie: Angels On My Balcony, from Autoamerican

I've had several songs from this album on my list already, because I think it's just a great album. This is one of the best, with a great pop melody, fairly low-pitched vocals from Debbie Harry, and some touches of harmony.

447. The Rainmakers: The Wages of Sin, from Tornado

The Rainmakers had a great wry wit to them, courtesy of Bob Walkenhorst's lyrics, and this one takes a humorous poke at religion. It's all in good fun, though, honest.

It's dog eat dog, cat eat mouse, mouse eat cheese, and cheese just smells. --Stan Ridgway, "Pick It Up(And Put It In Your Pocket)"

Aaron // 11:21 p.m. Clix me!

Saturday, July 13, 2002:

Iodine For Your Baby's Gashes

Only three days this time! I must be getting more free time.

Today was mildly cooler than the last two days--there was actual cloud, and even a hint of wind in the morning. It might not be so unbearably hot upstairs tonight that I have to go sleep on the futon in the basement. No rain, though--that would be silly. Maybe we'll get some for my birthday tommorrow. That would be a nice present!

I did go out and get a sprinkler yesterday, to try to rejuvenate the expanse of yellow grass that is our back yard. The jury's still out on that--one side is still yellow today, even though I sprinkled it pretty good--but Simon did get to experience the fun of running under the sprinkler, at least. It was fun to watch him discover all the things you can do--it didn't take him long to try cutting off one of the streams of water at the source, for instance. His outdoor pool was practically bath temperature, but the sprinkler was nice and cool.

I also tried to get a fan, and went to three different stores, but found nothing. At one, they said they were sold out; I didn't ask at the other two. Our living room has no openable windows, so some kind of a fan is beginning to look like a necessity. But in this heat wave I guess we'll have to go to the black market. I was actually surprised to find the decent kind of popsicles at the grocery store today--normally they're gone already if we go shopping on a hot day.

I can't wait until the temperature normalizes(which may not be until September, but we can hope for cooler stretches)and the humidity goes down. Some actual rain would be nice, but I'm not getting my hopes up.

Luke is starting to look a little bit less like a newborn and more like a baby. He's getting that baby fat on his face, and the big groove under his chin is starting to disappear. Now if we can get those big creases under his eyes to fill in, he won't look nearly as much like an old man.

He's still keeping one of us--well, Nicole, at least--up at night. And Simon hasn't been much better, refusing to go to bed without his pajamas, despite the heat in his room. And he's been sick, too, a cough and a bit of a fever. Twice he has fallen asleep spontaneously in the afternoon--once while he was in his booster seat at the table eating lunch! And while he has been restless at night for all of the above reasons(except Luke--Simon can sleep through his brother's crying fits quite well so far), he's still sleeping more than usual.

My friend Darren has been fairly active in Canadian heraldry organizations for some years now. He does a number of heraldry society web pages and the like; I think he's even taken some kind of Canadian Heraldry Society exam.

I've also been interested in heraldry, for a few years, anyway. Purely in the theoretical sense; I like the pattern of the blazons, and the more geometrical elements. I couldn't care less about the coats of arms of actual historical figures, for instance. I often thought that if I were ever to get involved in the SCA, that it would be as a herald. But I never really felt the urge.

I've got a few books on the subject, of course. The best is probably A Complete Guide To Heraldry by A.C. Fox-Davies, which is about as comprehensive as its title indicates, and copiously illustrated. Also interesting, but perhaps pitched to a little lower level, is Julian Franklyn's Heraldry. It's also got lots of pictures of various coats of arms, but few diagrams(Fox-Davies has many), Franklyn trying to describe everything verbally. There were also a couple that I first got from the library when I was interested in the subject, but I can't remember their names or authors now. Maybe one was An Encyclopedia of Heraldry or Dictionary or something. One that I own that I would not recommend is by Guy Cadogan Rothery, and I can't be bothered to look up the title. Maybe it was because I already had the Fox-Davies at the time, but I got nothing out of that book and found it to be arranged in a most unclear and confusing manner.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, Darren has just gotten around to organizing a local heraldry discussion group, and our first meeting is next week. It sounds like he got a couple of SCA people interested, and maybe a few others. So I've been reviewing my Fox-Davies and Franklyn over the past few days. I still remember the basics, but some of the details I'm a bit rusty on. Darren says not to worry, that I'll still be better than most of the people there, but I want to be authoritative. I want to be a heraldry guru. Heh.

Another project I've been looking at recently is my list of islands. Yes, another list. I started it a while ago just out of curiosity, to try to find the areas of as many islands as I could and create a comprehensive list of all the islands in the world. Well, at least all the ones with names, or something. I used the list as city names in one of my many games of Civilization(the original version). I started at the top with "Eurasiafrica", "America", "Antarctica", and "Australia", not holding to any outmoded notions like continenthood.

But I kept running into islands with no information available. And there are an awful lot of islands out there; I started once trying just to do a list of all the islands in my atlas, and I bogged down pretty quickly.

I figured that the information I wanted must be out there on the Net, though. I mean, everything else is, isn't it? And if it wasn't out there, then by gum I would put it up there myself.

Imagine my relief, though, when I found the
Island Directory, which seems to be part of a United Nations "Earthwatch" environmental program. It's not perfect, of course--for one thing, it omits all fresh-water islands, and some of those can be pretty sizeable. It left out, for instance, Grand Manan Island, in the Bay of Fundy, which last I heard was salt water, and it's missing the actual sizes for a number of quite large islands, which often I can find elsewhere. But it's given me a lot more data than I had before.

Looking at the island list made me think of the British island of Rockall. Rockall was, I thought, a fictional island created by William "Antony Swithin" Sargeant for his "Perilous Quest For Lyonesse" tetralogy. But Nicole told me recently that she had remembered that Rockall was a real island, though much smaller than what Sargeant had come up with(we both saw him on a world-building panel at ConText '89, the SF convention where we met). I also just recently heard that Sargeant had passed away, so since I was already in Google, I went to take a look.

And I found The Rockall Times, an irreverent British online newspaper which is published by people who may or may not once have visited the desolate island of Rockall(which is, as its name implies, all rock). Though they do have photos. At their site you can read more about Rockall's checkered history, more than you would expect for such an inconsequential piece of real estate. They also talk about a lot of stuff which is not at all Rockall-related, including such online quizzes as "Have You Slept With A Celebrity?" and a variety of satirical articles which probably make more sense if you're British. But it looks like it should be funny, anyway, even if not quite The Onion yet.

Still working my way through In The Company of Others, which I think could have used a good editing or tightening or something. Today I started thinking about how great a book this could have been if only C.J. Cherryh were writing it. Julie Czerneda is not pulling it off. She diffuses the tension with a ratio of two paragraphs of exposition to every one, unnecessary words in almost every sentence, and just general overwriting. It's entirely possible that I will not be voting this book in first place for this year's Aurora Award.

And now for the counting of the down:

450. This Mortal Coil: Drugs, from Filigree & Shadow

I like this version much better than the Talking Heads original from "Fear of Music", because it's got a beat to it and Alison Limerick's vocals are more powerful than David Byrne's. Maybe the Talking Heads version is more like a real drug trip, but that doesn't make it a better song, does it?

I had actually lost my liner notes for "Filigree & Shadow", but a quick web search, as always, turned up all the information I needed. Apparently Alison Limerick went on to have a career in dance music, which seems a bit of a shame after her brilliant vocals on this song and "My Father". But whatever....

449. Elvis Costello: Tiny Steps, from Taking Liberties

This was part of my brother's attempt to convince me that Elvis Costello wasn't all bad, after my initial bad reaction to "Everyday I Write The Book". It didn't do the whole job, but it did do some, showing me a slightly more raw and rough side.

There's too many clues in this room. --Gordon Lightfoot

Aaron // 10:45 p.m. Clix me!

Wednesday, July 10, 2002:

I Wish I Were Special

I'm going to include a few links here, something I don't ordinarily do, but what the heck.

First of all, the Blogger Insider program has come to an end, for reasons I haven't particularly investigated, but Keith always seemed a bit frustrated with the project so I'm not that surprised. However, I received the following email a little while ago from

You’re being contacted because you were a participant in the Blogger Insider. As some of you may know, and most of you probably don’t, Keith has decided to pull the plug on the blogger insider program. So, a few of us who would like to keep it going have decided to take it upon ourselves to start it up anew.

So, if you’re still interested in participating, please send us an e-mail with your name and current website address. If you could also forward this e-mail to anyone you exchanged questions with in the past, or anyone you think might be interested in joining, or even post this on your site if you’re so inclined, it’d be appreciated, thanks. And if anyone's interested in helping out, please let us know that too.


So anyone interested in the Blogger Insider concept, feel free to do as I did, email those guys(sounds like they don't have a web site yet, but I'm sure one will surface)and let them know. For those of you unfamiliar with it, the principle here is being assigned another participating blog(and blogger)at random, exchanging questions(usually after reading the blog, but not necessarily), and then posting the answers. I've found it very interesting, in general.

Then there's clix fix, an interesting blog review site that may or may not continue, but I think it's worthwhile and so I link to it here. I've always been quite interested in Clix, no matter that it's mainly just an ongoing popularity contest. Maybe it's for the same reason that I just bought a book of Billboard Top 40 Hits, 1955-1999, that I like to look at lists. In any event, at clix fix they review only sites that are actually participating in Clix, and try to get a Good(content & design), a Bad(content & design), and an Ugly(bad design only)every week. So far, anyway--it's only been up for a couple of weeks. And I know there are other review sites out there that I don't read...but this one said nice things about TranceJen's journal that I totally agree with, so obviously there's some commonality there. Until you find me there under "Bad", of course.*

Fans of Blowing Bubbles in the Wind may have noticed that it's disappeared recently, for reasons of domain registration kerfuffle; in the meantime, you can find it at for a little while.

We are still managing to cope with Luke's presence. He's sleeping pretty well at night already, still waking up for a couple of feedings but mostly letting us sleep. The first couple of nights seem to be the worst, and after that they settle down. However, he does sometimes go into near-screaming fits in the evening, where nothing seems to calm him down. Nicole says it reminds her of descriptions of colic. Please, let it not be that. But that's usually not supposed to start until at least one month...

It all comes back, slowly, all the things you have to do with the baby around. Bringing Nicole a glass of water when she starts to nurse, because she always gets thirsty and she doesn't always think to do it beforehand. When changing a baby's diaper, always be prepared for extra contributions after you've removed the soiled diaper, so get the new diaper in place, or something else more expendable than your diaper pad/clothes/carpet at least. Leaving a receiving blanket in every room for wiping up spit-up and catching drool(though neither has surfaced so far). And so on.

I finally went to the doctor on Monday night to see about these headaches, because they still hadn't started to subside. He listened to my story and took copious notes(a different doctor than the one I'd seen about my ear infection last time, who barely listened before leaping to his own conclusions), checked my blood pressure(normal--so no lurking brain embolisms, at any rate), and then looked in my ears again. Apparently the ear infection is still there, though I can't really feel the pressure in my inner ear the way I could. He thinks that the headache is from that. It makes sense, because the last time the headaches died down about the time my inner-ear pressure started up, so if they're part of the same infection... I've got more, and supposedly more powerful, antibiotics this time(though they are smaller, more expensive, and I'm to take fewer of them), which are supposed to wipe this thing out for good, and if the headaches still persist...well, then it's time to see the neurologist.

He didn't think it was migraine, though, because while those tend to be one side or the other, they also tend to be felt in the front as opposed to the back. I'd be just as happy if it was the ear infection thing, which seems plausible, and went away in due course.

Though it hasn't really shown signs of diminishing yet. Last night I took my last Advil, but figured I should be able to stand it by now without painkillers. After all, I hadn't really been noticing any pain. Ha ha. By 4:00 this morning my head was the worst it's been since the morning after Luke was born. I'd taken a Tylenol when I went to bed, but it was doing nothing at all. So it was time for more Advil. Awful as I went, I got up at 4:15 to go in search of drugs.

I remembered going out to a Shoppers Drug Mart at Millbourne Mall late at night when Simon was small, for baby Tylenol when he was miserable with a fever, so I thought I'd go there. But apparently it was "OPEN TIL MIDNITE", not "24 HOURS". So I drove around the neighbourhood, despite the pounding headache in all four corners of my brain making me doubtless a wee bit hazardous. Well, I didn't get stopped by the police or anything. I also did not find one pharmacy open in the whole of Millwoods, or at least in the eight or nine shopping centres that I swung by in the next half hour. So I returned home in defeat.

Luckily, Nicole remembered her Tylenol-3, and I eagerly wolfed down a couple of those. It took a little while--I remember the delay in effectiveness from back when I got my wisdom teeth out--but soon there was only a remnant of minor discomfort, and I was able to sleep.

This morning, though, my stomach was delicate again, though not quite as bad as it was on Friday either. Apparently it's taking the Tylenol late at night on an empty stomach that causes the problem; noted. I managed to choke down a few crackers and a little bit of cereal, and eventually things settled down. And I went out to get my Advil. Good Advil. I could do commercials now, I bet.

I remember one Bill Cosby sketch("Toothache", I think it was)where he talked about taking painkillers that didn't actually get rid of the pain, just postpone it. Then it comes back with "little pain buddies" when the painkillers wear off. That was almost how it felt this morning. (He was eventually able to get rid of the pain entirely by taking Midol. And I did look at that when I was in the store...)

A couple of days ago my optical mouse started to spaz out on me. Now I love my optical mouse, because I hate cleaning mice. Edna at work is pretty good at it, but some of mine challenge even her(she tried when I brought one down to Calgary as a spare for the laptop). Our house is always very dusty, because we're pitiful housekeepers and also own many, many books, and all sorts of cruft always accumulates inside the mouse. But the optical mouse never had that problem. I put it on my dusty mousepad and it works like a charm.

But on Monday the little light at the front, which always annoyed me when I first got it but soon came to be a welcome sign of life, kept going out. And when it did, the mouse stopped working. Windows would go into "Unknown Device detected" mode and try to find a driver for it, screwing things up even more. Finally, I gave up and plugged in my old serial mouse, which worked not too bad but lacked some sensitivity, so it was sometimes hard to move it small distances. (I have a PS/2 mouse somewhere as well, but it's even worse.) At least I could point it at things, though. I get quickly frustrated with having to do everything by keyboard. I discovered how much I actually use my little scroll-wheel, though, because it wasn't there.

Today we got ambitious and went shopping in the afternoon(I was still recovering in the morning)for a number of things. A new mouse was one of them. We went to Staples(I am steering clear of Future Shop these days), and the guy there said he'd never heard of an optical mouse failing like that, which is somewhat reassuring. I'd hate to think that optical mice just bit the biscuit when normal mice would just need to be cleaned. Nonetheless, I did shell out the $6 for a two-year extended warranty which would allow me to bring in a non-functioning one and exchange it for a new one at no extra cost. Not that this mouse will fail like that, of course, but if I hadn't it would. (See, I told you--I'm an atheist, but at some level I do believe in malicious Murphy spirits who must be appeased by making extra preparations that will only be necessary if you don't make them.) And it's working fine.

I also got some more RAM. I had done the research to find out exactly what kind of RAM I needed, and today I finally took out seven screws so I could open up my case and see how many RAM chips I had right now. Luckily, I had one 64M chip, so I could easily double my memory by only buying one more. (From the sounds of things, a 128M chip is not much more expensive than a 64M right now, but I would've had to buy two...) I haven't noticed a major difference yet, but my email downloaded a little faster(the virus checked usually slows it down, I think). I still managed to crash The Sims:Hot Date after only a couple of minutes downtown, though. I need to check the web site to see if there's a patch or something, because that's annoying. But I'll have to try it playing with eight Sims and four or five guests to see if that speeds up...especially when the email program is downloading in the background. That's when it always seems to grind to a halt, and if it's because of memory this should help.

I also got another windshield wiper, so I can fix the other one on my car; some AA batteries to replace the one in the clock in the living room that has apparently been losing time at an astonishing rate(though we can never quite catch it in the act); a new mechanical pencil(my current one is a Dollar Store piece of crap, and I'm tired of waiting for the missing piece of my decent one to turn up); the Billboard Top 40 Hits book I mentioned earlier; and a couple of other books, Only You Can Save Mankind by Terry Pratchett and a Caroline Cooney for Nicole.

I've been meaning to look up some of Pratchett's non-Discworld books for a while(after all, I'm only a couple of books behind him in the series now), but today when we were in Indigo we went to check the Young Adult book section to see how many of Nicole's books they had(a respectable number, as it turns out, and some of them turned face out)I happened to see the Pratchetts there. They had the Truckers/Diggers/Wings series as well, but I was never quite as interested in those. I hear those might be coming to either the big or small screen sometime, which could be interesting.

I spent most of Monday finishing A Storm of Swords, even there were a few places where I wanted to put down the book for a while, or even hurl it against the wall(which, since this is a hardcover, would have done some serious damage to the wall). But I'm not that kind of person. Sometimes, though, it seems that George R.R. Martin can be gratuitously mean. The good and nice and honourable characters are being winnowed out one by one, or sometimes reaped in huge swaths, it seems sometimes. I won't put any spoilers in here, but there's at least one major, sympathetic viewpoint character killed in this book, and in such a way that I was deeply shocked and troubled. I was angry, and if I could have killed the character responsible for the deaths, I would have. And these are just characters in a series of books--imagine if they were one of your family? But that family is almost gone anyway.

Sometimes Martin seems to be trying to demonstrate that cunning and treachery will always triumph over honour and a pure heart. The latter type of character die because of trusting someone they shouldn't. Does that mean that the lesson is never to trust? Is that really what Martin wants to put across? Or is he just making us realize how thankful we should be for living in countries where we don't have to worry about one faction's armies or another suddenly deciding that we're on the wrong side? Because there is no law in the kingdoms of Westeros at this point, only the rule of force. And it still feels like it's going to get worse before it gets better.

And the characters who seemed the most evil in the early books are now being painted a little bit more sympathetically, perhaps because from their own viewpoint they are nowhere near as bad as people think they are. I am beginning to root for the exiled Queen Daenerys to come in with her dragons and burn the bloody thing to the ground. She is certainly looking like the lesser of many evils.

I wonder how long I will have to wait before the next book comes out. I have a feeling I will be shelling out for the hardover of that one, somehow, unless we can weasel it out of Nicole's brother again.* I'm sure I'll end up going through them again doing character lists and trying to figure out the death toll per book.

In the meantime, the next Robert Jordan should be out this fall, and I expect that hardcover may well end up in our house too. Jordan's world is a bit more fantasy--the bad guys are nowhere near as capable, at this point, as the good guys, so you can see hope. In Martin's world, hope is rare and fleeting, it seems.

Martin's world has taken over my dreams, though. For the last three nights dreams involving characters from A Song of Ice And Fire(the official name of the series)have dominated my sleeping mind, or at least have been what I remembered when I awoke. The headaches, usually worse at night, added to my sense of disorientation when I did wake up, which was frequent. I don't remember Robert Jordan affecting me that way...

I hardly read at all on Tuesday, perhaps to try to clear my system a bit, but also perhaps because nothing would be able to measure up to the power of his writing and his world. I wanted to read more, but more is not here yet. And I didn't want to go and start reading Terry Goodkind or Steven Erikson or whoever else is out there these days. Maybe I needed some Pratchett, as an antidote.

But what I started was Julie Czerneda's In The Company of Others, which I am still only a couple of chapters into. She's a Canadian author, and this novel is nominated for an Aurora award this year. The voting closes at the end of July, so I wanted to get this done by then. At the rate I'm going I'll just squeak by.* I'm sure I'll speed up at some point, but now the Billboard book has been distracting me.

The heat seems to have returned. I think it was Monday, or maybe Sunday(I lose track of the days quite easily when I'm not at work), that it was cloudy and cool all day(with a three-second rainshower to make things complete). That was wonderful, truly. But the last couple of days have been unremittingly hot with barely any cloud at all. A bit of wind when you get outside, but that's all. Luke has been wearing just his diaper most of the time, because to put anything else on him would be cruel and probably turn him into a baby raisin in a puddle of sweat.

We do have the furnace fan on now, circulating air throughout the house, but I'm beginning to think that what it's doing is piping the hot air downstairs, because I'm in the basement right now and feeling quite prickly. Maybe it's the humidity, too. We need a good thunderstorm. Hell, we need a good week of rain.

We really should have bought a sprinkler today, because our back lawn is going to die out completely at this rate. The only water it gets is from when we empty Simon's kiddie pool, and that's in a big dump which probably mostly all runs off. We don't really care much about our lawn, but we don't want it to die off, because it'd be such a pain having to put in sod or do the Japanese rock garden thing. Though when we bought the house, the inspector told us that we had "negative landscaping", which basically means that if you dumped a huge quantity of water on our back lawn, it would seep towards the house. And we have thousands of books in our basement. So maybe if the lawn all died off we could call in the landscapers and get that fixed. I'm sure it wouldn't cost more than an arm and a leg, and then we wouldn't have to worry about that either.*

Continuing that pesky countdown(with a post every four days, Luke will be in college by the time I finish this):

452. Genesis: Tonight, Tonight, Tonight, from Invisible Touch

This is one of several songs in my countdown list that I'm mostly familiar with in a version which was shortened for single/video release. The version on the album includes a minute or two of stupid synthesizer & drum sounds in the middle that don't improve it one bit, in my opinion, so I don't blame them for deciding that was what needed to be cut. Phil Collins/Genesis can be pretty uneven, but this song is pretty powerful, and apart from that extra album bit is an excellent example of the trio working together.

451. Radiohead: Creep, from Pablo Honey

There are a lot of Radiohead fans out there, or maybe it's just that those who are are very rabid about it. Try as I might, though, I just can't figure out what it is about them. Neither this album, nor "The Bends", nor "OK Computer", has managed to convince me that there's anything to it. Apart from this one song, which is a masterpiece of musical simplicity, and lyrically manages to evoke feelings that I'm sure a lot of my fellow(former)social outcasts are familiar with, from the days when the idea of talking to a member of the opposite sex made you physically ill. The rest of Radiohead does nothing for me, but this song(which I understand was recorded in an actual first take)validates their existence as far as I'm concerned.

I was brought up to believe in nature over nurture.

Aaron // 11:11 p.m. Clix me!

Saturday, July 06, 2002:

All You've Gotta Do Is Close Your Eyes

It's been a few days again, but as you might have gathered they were busy days.

To save on the suspense, just let me tell you first that we had a boy, Luke Sebastian Humphrey, born at 4:02 PM on July 4, 2002. 8 pounds, 20.5 inches. For some reason we don't use metric measurements for that. Well, I think the doctors do, but they tell us the Imperial measurements still.

We had no problems on Thursday morning getting up early, getting Simon up, and dropping him off at Joanne's for babysitting. Joanne has been truly indispensible, babysitting Simon for almost every one of Nicole's appointments with her obstetrician. She was Nicole's maid of honour, and it's been a great way for them to keep in touch. She's staying home with her own baby, Deborah, who's a few months old now, but it's still very generous of her, because she has to take the bus and she doesn't live particularly nearby, though at least on the same side of the river.

Once we got to the hospital, Nicole went first to "OAC", the Obstetrical Assessment Centre, which was a room with five beds in it. All were soon occupied, and we were aware all day that it was a busy day for babies being born at the Grey Nuns hospital. Luckily, Nicole's cervix turned out to be softer than it had been on Tuesday, so her obstetrician, Dr. Lee, was able to move things up a few hours and get her right into a delivery room and onto the oxytocin drip. (Also luckily, another woman who had been due to give birth that day, and might not have left a delivery room available for us, had her baby at 5:00 AM, leaving an opening for us. Phew!)

It seems, from what we read in What To Expect When You're Expecting and what we see on American TV, that there are a few differences in practices between our two countries. Or maybe it's not a Canada-U.S. thing, but a regional thing. At the very least, obstetricians have little problem in recommending babies be induced in Canada, and I gather there's an FDA ruling in the U.S. that makes things a little bit harder. And the whole delivery process is a little bit different. Though we haven't yet encountered the spontaneous-labour circumstance, so we probably haven't seen how that works yet. I tend to think that we'd go to the hospital directly, though, and they'd call our "practitioner"(a neutral term used in the book, probably to include midwives as well)if the inspection in the OAC warranted it, as opposed to calling our practitioner and then being told when to go to the hospital.

It did take until almost 10:00 before she was actually getting oxytocin on the IV, but in general things moved a little bit faster this time, as they're supposed to for second pregnancies. I don't remember all the details of the timeline right now, but I left a little bit before noon to go have some(low-quality)lunch at the hospital cafeteria. Nicole got to have almost a little nap before her contractions really started.

Then, unfortunately, it was some time before she got her epidural. Our nurse, Lindsey, had been called away to assist with a C-section, so we saw a variety of others(I heard, a few times, the head nurse trying very hard to juggle schedules so everybody got a break at some point)until she came back. And the anaesthesiologist was, of course, at the C-section as well, so we had to wait for him to be free. So things did not end up quite as pain-free as the first time, because of the faster timeline and the busier day.

The "three stages" of labour are supposed to go roughly from 0-3 cm of dilation(which can take place over a period of weeks), 3-7 cm of dilation(a few hours), and 7-10 cm(less than an hour). That doesn't seem to hold for Nicole, who takes hours to get to 4 cm, then crams the rest of it all into her third stage.

Nicole got to 10 cm just about the time Lindsey was due to go off shift, but she ended staying till the birth anyway. Dr. Lee almost didn't make it, though; the nurses had to get Nicole to hold off pushing for a couple of contractions until she could arrive. Her office is only just across the street from the hospital, though. The pushing went easier this time too, I think, going much more quickly, and not requiring the vacuum-suction device to help get the baby out. And yes, it turned out to be a boy. I once again forewent the privilege of cutting the umbilical cord; we had signed up, though, for a cord blood collection program, because apparently it's very rich in stem cells, which I gather are highly useful these days for some reason.

Sharna was due to show up after she was done work, and by the time Luke was cleaned up and weighed and measured and all that, we decided we might as well wait for her. The plan was that she would come over and if Nicole was still in labour, then she would take our car(with the car seat)and go fetch Simon from Joanne's. But as it was, when she and Nick arrived I went and got Simon myself. Unfortunately, by that point it was a little after 5:00, so rush hour made the drive much slower(go figure)than it had been at 6:30 AM.

When we got back, Nicole had been moved to her private room, and Luke was being bathed and such. Simon got bored fairly quickly, and he and I were both hungry, so we went over to KFC for some food and then came back. Then I got to help change one of those lovely meconium diapers. Meconium is what the first few diapers contain, which is basically the result of digesting the amniotic fluid that's been sitting in the baby's tracts up until birth. It's dark and it's pretty sticky, and not much fun to clean, but it only lasts for a day or two.

Finally Simon and I went home. I was, unfortunately, starting to get a reprise of
that lovely throbbing headache I first got on Father's Day, but I still stayed up until 11:00 or so before going off to bed. I remember dreaming that there were people who were debugging my headache in some way, and also getting some ideas for things to write about in my blog, and writing them down. When I woke up, of course, I had done no such thing. Damn. I'm sure they were memorable.*

Simon woke me up on Friday morning at 7:30; at first I thought he was the cat climbing on the bed, but no, it was the kid. The headache was still there. I'd had a Tylenol at about 3:30, and it hadn't seemed to have much effect, so I had some Aspirin instead. (We have both because I generally prefer Aspirin, but it's verboten for pregnant women.) That may not have been a good idea, because I ended up throwing up several times that morning, and of course not eating much for breakfast as a result. I'm not sure if it was the Aspirin on an empty stomach; it could have been something I ate yesterday, like the awful chicken at the hospital cafeteria.

Finally I felt well enough to consider leaving the house(though not without a handy bucket), and called ahead to the hospital to see if I could talk to Nicole. She was scheduled to stay for 24 hours, but when I talked to her she was apparently in the process of being discharged, as everything was peachy-keen. So Simon and I drove over and then got to wait around as the discharge process ground slowly on. But finally we were free to go.

My stomach improved to the point where I was able to have a lunch of saltine crackers and keep them down; my headache didn't really improve, though it was more focused on one side of my head than the other. And we started to settle down to try to find a new household equilibrium with the addition of this new element. It hasn't happened yet, but I am home for another week, still, so we will hopefully have to time to deal with the extremes first before I go back to work and we found out how our schedules will really shake out.

For instance, Luke was having trouble getting to sleep Friday night, crying whenever we put him in the bassinet but not really wanting to be fed, just held. Finally we gave him a bottle of formula(which fills him up more than the thin colostrum that comes in before the milk), and then at 1:30 AM, I got up with him and took him downstairs to give Nicole a chance to sleep. I finished reading Permanence, and then just lay with him in the dark for a while, and then at about 3:00 I took him back upstairs and he settled down in the bassinet without a peep and slept for a few more hours. Simon slept through the whole thing, blessedly.

Today we took Luke out shopping with us, which was fairly painless, at least as far as Luke was concerned, because he slept in the car seat and then slept in the stroller. Simon, though, was distressed at the speed of our schedule(we wanted to get home before he woke up hungry), because we had to skip several of his usual fun stops. We had had to leave a little bit later than usual because the public health nurse stopped by at about 10:00 to check a few things with Nicole and Luke. We do know a bit more what we're doing this time than we did with Simon, so the visit was probably shorter.

I did talk to a pharmacist, while Nicole was getting her Tylenol-3 prescription filled(for the "afterpains" that come about on second and later births when the uterus continues to contract), and it sounds like I may be starting to get migraines. That sounds like fun. My mom always said that she got them, though after reading Oliver Sacks' Migraine I wasn't sure about it. I certainly didn't get any of the more bizarre effects I read about in the book, just a painful headache. But the fact that it was mostly on one side is apparently a significant indicator, and is another possible explanation for the nausea. Anyway, she recommended I get some Advil, which so far hasn't had any appreciable effect.

The headache will probably fade over the next couple of days anyway. I hope so, because yesterday I really just didn't feel like doing anything, and today hasn't been much better. It's another reason I haven't blogged again until now. And even now I should probably really be in bed, in case Luke has another restless night. Nicole and I both had supplemental naps, though.

I did go through a lot of CDs this week, between the ones I bought and the large number of library ones that I had due today. I still haven't caught up with all of them(CD listening also not mixing well with migraines), but I'm getting there.

The best find of the week was Cozy Bones' album "Piss Perfect Hotel". I always think that band and album names with profanity in them are just shooting themselves in the foot, but whatever... It took me some time to track down some information on Cozy Bones, but apparently they're a band from White Rock, BC(southeast of Vancouver)who are quite well-known in their hometown, at least. From this album I can see why; it's a wonderful mixture of different styles, somewhat reminiscent of Collective Soul(whom I also tend to like). I think they could do really well for themselves, so let me plug them here.

I also liked Sheryl Crow's latest, "C'mon, C'mon", but then I expected that. I had some reservations about "The Globe Sessions" after the first two singles, which I didn't like as much as some of her others, but that turned out okay as well. Aerosmith's "Just Push Play" was pretty much what I expected, and it was decent but not exceptional. What else...I took them back today, so it's hard to remember. Front Line Assembly's "Implode" was uninspiring industrial/drum'n'bass stuff. And right now I'm listening to Ivy's "Long Distance", which is mostly bland pop, though the current song, "Blame It On Yourself", is a little bit more interesting. The lead singer is almost reminiscent of Stereolab, but the music is nowhere near as interesting.

I did mention reading Permanence by Karl Schroeder, which I didn't think quite measured up to Ventus but was still interesting. There was lots of neat SFnal concepts in it, but somehow the plot didn't feel like it took advantage of them as fully as it could have.

And now I am, gloriously, into A Storm of Swords(by George R.R. Martin, of course). I started it this morning, and I'm already 220 pages into it. It is not disappointing me in any way, and there have already been some delicious plot twists coming totally out of left field. It's hard to say whether things have reached a low point for the "forces of good" in Martin's world or not, but certainly the forces of selfishness are hampering them in their efforts to combat the actual evil which is surfacing.

Counting the down:

454. Rush: In The End, from Fly By Night

On Rush's second album Neil Peart's songwriting hadn't really taken over to the extent it did later, so they were still a bit Led Zeppelin-ish at times(though I didn't really listen to much Led Zeppelin at the time, so I didn't realize it). This one starts out acoustic and then goes electric, with Geddy Lee singing in his signature early-Rush near-shriek. Still, it's an effective song.

453. Rolling Stones: Sleep Tonight, from Dirty Work

This low-key track showcases Keith Richards over Mick, and presages his "Talk Is Cheap" album a few years later. It stands in good contrast to the rest of the album, which is often a bit overwrought and hard-edged. ...It's also an appropriate message for the next few days, I think. I really should get some sleep tonight.

Give it an understanding but no tongue.

Aaron // 10:55 p.m. Clix me!

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Comments by: YACCS

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