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Archives for: March 2005

Filed in:Alexandra
Our Life

Easter Bunny, Honey

March 31st, 2005  · stk

It seems fitting that the incongruous juxtaposition of a bunny rabbit and a chicken egg (symbols of the religious Easter holiday) should be explained by a landscaping website. For as much as chicken eggs have in common with rabbits, landscaping has with the resurrection of Christ.

What was revealed? Two things: First, the answer to the question that I seem to ask on an annual basis (but heretofore, have done nothing to resolve) and secondly, that foxglove (Digitalis) and monkshood (Aconitum) are poisonous to humans. If you too, wonder why rabbits are associated with chicken eggs, you might enjoy discovering WHY, in this landscaping article.

Enough, you say! Let's get on with what we really want to see: cute pictures of Alexandra Lynn, enjoying her first participatory Easter!

While those in Phoenix (and other points much further south than Edmonton) might enjoy a sunrise service and Easter egg hunt in the backyard, Easter was pretty much confined to the living room, in our house. There was a good six inches of snow blanketing the ground out front and in the back. Temps hovered just below the freezing mark, but it didn't dampen Alex's enthusiasm in her quest to find hidden eggs!

But, we're getting ahead of ourselves, because festivities really began the day before, with the decorating of hard-boiled eggs. It was really Scott's idea, as Alex had no clue or expectation regarding Easter. Scott has enjoyed being a kid again and egg decorating was no exception. A dozen fresh eggs were boiled alive, sacrificing their soft-side for the hard reality of Easter. A few cracked under the pressure, yielding only 9 satisfactory conscripts. (Of those nine, Alex broke two in the decorating ... so, in the end, only 7 eggs made it to 'the hiding', as it is called.)

THE OLD WAY: When Scott was a kid, colored liquid dyes were used, in bowls. Eggs were dunked and allowed to sit (the longer they sat, the more vivid the color). This yielded many plaid-like eggs, though wax crayons could be artistically employed to counter the "plaid look".

THE NEW WAY: The kit Rachel brought home contained tiny sponges and packets of pre-mixed, concentrated dye. The object was to DAB the egg with the sponge, which resulted in a speckled appearance. The plaid look, apparently, is passe. Instead of a wax crayon, clear stickers (in a variety of shapes) were employed to keep the dabbed dye off of the egg.

Which is better? Well, it must be said that speckled eggs look much nicer than plaid ones, but ... the stickers don't do a very good job (the dye gets under them) and the speckled eggs end up quite STICKY, even after they have dried. The mess, however (and fortunately for us), cleaned up completely in a snap.

Alex 'got into' the whole egg decorating thing, as you can plainly see. The fragility of the eggs and the complexity of the design process may not have been high on her list, but COLOR she understands well! So it was that she colored her eggs, ... her hands, ... her face and even the table (because after we were done, we forgot to throw away the unused portions of dye that remained in the packets and while Rachel and Scott were resting (decorating eggs with a toddler can wear a middle-aged parent out), Alex had discovered the remaining colors and was proceeding to finger paint her newest design right onto the kitchen table!) Thankfully, we caught her before her 'artwork' spread to the cushions, ... the floor or ... the walls! *sigh*

Eggs now decorated, we awaited morning for the hunt. Alex, of course, had no clue what was about to ensue. (So "the hiding" was mostly done in plain sight, though Scott did hide many of the small, chocolate eggs in more obtuse places - within Rachel's office. This was done to provide incentive to Rachel's late-night studying, but in the end, it backfired. So enamored with small chocolate candies is Rachel, that all homework ceased until the very last, well-hidden "incentive" was discovered and consumed. Shhhh... don't tell her, but I know for a fact that a handful remain. If she finds out, I'm afraid that she'll tear the place apart and all studying will cease!)

Like mother, like daughter. It was discovered that Alex too, has a sweet tooth and this, more than the finding of hand-decorated eggs, spurred her in her quest. We hid "robin's eggs" (which are candy and chocolate-covered, malted-milk balls, shaped & colored like eggs). They are one of Scott's favorites and although Rachel purchased them with Scott in mind (bless her heart), I don't think he ended up consuming very many! Alex, it seems, got the lion's share. And, of course, they're just a tad big for her tiny mouth, which resulted in very colorful drool ... on her chin, her hands, the furniture and her clothes. But hey, she was having FUN!

She dutifully collected the decorated, hard-boiled eggs and placed them into a wicker basket. The robin's eggs were consumed the moment each was found, save for a few that Dad put into a clear plastic container, along with some blocks, which had a screw-top lid. If it weren't for that screw-top lid, there wouldn't have been any robin's eggs left for the following day. Alex was so sated with chocolate, that those eggs in the plastic container weren't much of a draw on Sunday. Come Monday, however, motivated by the plainly visible candy within, Alex set upon the task of opening the container. Fruitlessly she banged, tugged and tried to pry off the lid (she hasn't grasped the "righty-tighty, lefty-loosey" concept, yet). She is frustrated quite easily, but made her intentions very clear, by taking the container to Dad, plopping it in his lap, saying, "Thank you!" (As if the opening and her consumption of the candy within was a foregone conclusion). Unfortunately, Dad is so smitten by his begotten creature (and for her part, Alex CAN be quite cute), that he did his child's bidding, opened the container and gave her an egg. He did, however, have the foresight to extract only one and then closed it up again, thus saving the last piece until later in the evening, when the whole "Thank you" cuteness was repeated.

And with the final consumption of candy, our relatively non-religious, high-caloric celebration of the spring solstice, Christ's resurrection and the pagan God of Fertility, came to a close. Someone please tell the snow hares that frequent the front yard and the local weathermen that we are now officially into the spring season, because outside still pretty much looks like winter here!

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KISS my <Acronym>

March 25th, 2005  · stk

Nothing strikes up a better debate than abused rules, poor support and general confusion. The use of the <abbr> and <acronym> tags are a case in point.

Normally, I'm not a big fan of rules, per se, but because I'm learning XHTML, have been making the effort to be 'semantically correct'. Before today, however, I had not used either of these two tags, though have been aware of their existence. I began an exploration this morning, which led down a convoluted path and yielded a most confusing result.

First, there seems to be a general misunderstanding about the difference between an abbreviation and an acronym. After searching dictionaries, web discussions & a variety of other sources, definitions for both are below. If the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) wanted to identify acronyms as a special abbreviation, they missed the boat by not doing the same for initialisms, with their own tag. (e.g., HTML is not an acronym, but rather, an initialism). Paraphrased from dictionary.com :

 

  • Abbreviation: A shortened form of a word or phrase used to represent the complete form (e.g., Mass. for Massachusetts, or Dr. for Doctor.)
  • Acronym: An abbreviation forms a word, using the initial letters of a name (e.g., WAC for Women's Army Corps) or parts of a series of words (e.g. radar for radio detecting and ranging).
  • Initialism: An abbreviation using the first letter (or letters) of a word in a phrase (e.g., IRS), syllables or components of a word (e.g., TNT) or a combination of words and syllables (e.g., ESP). Initialisms are pronounced by spelling out the letters one-by-one.

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Gene-altered Foods

March 24th, 2005  · stk

Survery shows Americans are clueless about the genetically modified (GM) foods they eat. (Some would argue that I should have ended that sentence after the fifth word, but that's just mean.)

Answer these questions: (hover over sentence for the correct answer)

  • Can animal genes be inserted into plants?
  • Would tomatoes, modified with catfish genes, taste fishy?
  • Have you eaten a genetically-modified food?

A recent survey has revealed that consumers know little about GM food, even though they've been eating them (unlabeled) for almost 10 years. Roughly 75% of U.S. processed foods (boxed cereals, frozen dinners, cooking oils & more) contain GM ingredients. Most everythign with a corn or soy ingredient has a GM component.

GM foods first hit store shelves in 1994 (Flavr tomato). It wasn't a success and was pulled in 1997, ironically, because of its disappointing flavor. But by 1995, millions of acres of GM corn and soybeans had been planted and processed foods that contained these products were being distributed.

Nearly all GM enhancements are designed to boost yields and resist disease.

Companies developing GM foods voluntarily send data to the FDA, but no official approval is necessary before these products are sold to the public.

Read more in this MSNBC news article

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Our Life

Oop Trash

March 24th, 2005  · stk

What a difference a week makes! It seems that we were premature in extolling the weather Gods for our glorious spring weather. The jet stream jetted off on its meandering path, leaving us on the frozen side of things. Then a low pressure system descended and we've been snowed upon since. Temps are again in the 17°F (-8°C) range, during the day and we have been covered with as much snow as had previously melted. The cat, again, has had to resort to boot-holes for his (much-hurried) morning constitution. Spring has again, been delayed, much to our dismay.

Alex has been oblivious to the weather, content to gander out the large picture window and say, "cheep, cheep" to all the birds alighting on the suet. She doesn't know that Easter is approaching or that April 3rd will quietly mark her 18th month and her 2nd half-birthday. Both of her great grandmother's, on Dad's (long-lived) side of the family, will have celebrated their 89th and 95th birthdays on (what can only be described as a strange twist of fate) the same day - March 29th! "Happy Birthday Great Grandma Sally and Great Grandma Milly!"

Alex received gifts from both sets of Grandparents, for Easter. She enjoyed opening the envelopes and cards! One of the gifts came in a brown-wrapped box and the box itself was the highlight of her afternoon. Upon rising from her nap, after having slept very hard (the imprint of her precious, soft, hand-made blanket plainly visible on one side of her face), she awoke to find a BOX. She took her time opening it (delayed gratification NOT being one of her better suits, there was no question that the gift should be opened IMMEDIATELY and not postponed until Easter!) Gradually, she made her way through the coarse brown wrapping, joyfully tearing small pieces off the box and scattering them about the room, leaving a right-mess for dear old Dad (AKA the maid) to pick up. When she finally got down to brass tacks, she opened the card and then extracted each of the 4 tissue-wrapped items from the box, only to (just as carefully) put them back! She amused herself for nearly an hour this way, extracting the items, then puzzling them back into place, closing the lid and beginning the process anew. It was finally Dad, who insisted that the tissue be removed and the actual presents revealed! "Thank you," she said, after dad prompted with, "What do you say?" Alex enjoyed her gifts, cards and especially the nicely-wrapped tissued items!

That's our Alex. A little organizer. (I wonder where she gets that from?) One could almost say that she's a compulsive organizer, although the criteria for organization appears to be quite random. And so does her choice of 'containers'.

The other evening, as Rachel was preparing a dinner, she asked Scott, "Where's the lid to the pot?" Scott, thinking that Rachel couldn't be looking too hard, replied (rather curtly), "In the pot cabinet or the drying rack." (Where ELSE would it be? Hello?) When Rachel said (rather curtly in return), "No 'dear', I've looked and it's not there," Scott got up from his desk and wandered out to the kitchen to SHOW Rachel that she hadn't been looking too hard. Hmmm. "No pot lid. That's odd," he said. Finally, it dawned on us .... ALEX! She must've gotten into the cupboard and "organized" things. The question - WHERE did she put the damn thing? We looked high and low, in her toy box, in other cupboards - no pot lid. Finally, Scott looked in the trash. There was the pot lid, buried under coffee grounds, egg shells, dirty disposable diapers and other garbage. But the lid was not the only non-trash item discovered. Alex had 'organized' a toy and Scott's 30-year-old momento which, until recently, was carefully secured in an office drawer! The real question: "How long has THIS been going on?" (And, of course, THIS is the answer to the question that the neighbors have: "Why are those people rooting through their garbage in the alley? What an odd family!")

Odd indeed! We've now had to fortify the garbage canister and "Oop-proof" it. (Weren't we just saying a week ago, "How cute! Alex knows that ripped up paper goes into the trash!" If we had only suspected! What else have we "lost"?)

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Oop-Speak

March 14th, 2005  · stk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Scott

Taxes - Yuck!

March 13th, 2005  · stk

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

Enter SSN: [ ], Enter PIN:[ ]

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

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

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

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

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

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A Paying Gig

March 13th, 2005  · stk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Spring?

March 7th, 2005  · stk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Random Picture

March 6th, 2005  · stk

Random Sidebar Image linked to Blog Entry

Concept

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

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

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

Read full story...

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What's in the b2evo Category?

March 4th, 2005  · stk

For those that don't know, b2evolution is the blogging engine that we use to write these pages. It is a php-based, open-source (free), multi-linqual, multi-blogging software program, developed by François Planque.

A great feature of b2evolution is that it can be customized. Of course, a source of frustration is that it can be customized. ;)

To learn more about the software, visit b2evolution.net.

Because I've been getting emails from people asking how to do this, or do that, I've decided to create this b2evo category. It's really a "HOW TO" section, containing step-by-step instructions (with code) about some of the customizations that I've done, utilized or know to work. It's purpose is to serve as a resource for the wider b2evolution community. Each article will be self-contained (although may link offsite for 'more information' or 'details'. The items here will be supported (if you have questions, email me and I will answer them & help you with your website).

This is my way of 'paying it forward' and saying thanks to the developers & those that have helped me. I hope that you find this section useful.

-Scott

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Feeding George

March 2nd, 2005  · stk
Alex feeds george of the jungle

If Alex has a 'best buddy', it ISN'T Tuxedo (our cat, who flees from Alex). No, it's a rather well-worn, stuffed monkey named "George" (after "Curious George" or "George of the Jungle" - take your pick). He's almost as tall as Alex, when erect, which isn't too often. He's usually slouched over, somewhere in the house, arms akimbo and tail drooped. He's missing an eyebrow (oops, I just noticed that he's now missing BOTH eyebrows! A rather recent change). His smile is rubbed off & his 'fur' ratty and worn. To top it off, George isn't very 'curious' anymore. "Why?" Because he was sprayed by Rachel's parents cat, "Pushkin", once, which made George rather incurious and precipitated multiple washings (and further wear)! He may not be curious anymore, but least he smells decent again.

Poor George has been around the block a few times. Like the Velveteen Rabbit, George is almost 'REAL', so loved by Alex is he. He's beed diapered, well - sort of. He's been dragged, tossed, hugged, kissed and thrown down the stairs. But until recently, he had never been fed. Poor George had NEVER had a proper meal.

Leave it to Alex to remedy THAT problem! Watch the video, as Alex 'feeds' George a bowl full of "Oh's" (short for Cheerios).

PS: When I posted this video, I showed it to Alex. She SCREAMED, she was so excited! When Rachel started talking, she yelled out, "Mommaa!" Then, recognizing George ... she made a monkey sound. THAT melted my heart and made all the time it took to get a video solution TOTALLY worth it! What a cutie.

Because we are evaluating this product, it is important that we know about any technical difficulties. IF you're having problems viewing the video, please tell us what is happening (or NOT happening) HERE. Thanks in advance for taking the time to let us know.

About the Video: This video was made using a trial version of Riva Producer (though it could have been made with their Lite version). This choice is a superior solution to the "Blue Pacific" video we published a few days ago in two ways:

1) Streaming: This means you don't have to wait for the file to be fully downloaded before play begins. It utilizes a new file type known as 'flash video' (FLV). For most broadband users, this means that the video begins playing 'immediately' (though there may be a delay, locating the file on the server, which has more to do with our service provider, than the video). Dialup users may still experience problems, as the download probably won't occur faster than the video plays. (In an effort to be more forward-looking, we've made the decision to offer better quality content, aimed at the majority of current computer users (i.e. - faster data connections). However, we appreciate ALL visitors and invite dial-up users to DOWNLOAD the video instead (700KB-AVI) and view at your leisure.

EDIT (3/12): Originally, the FLV file size I posted was on par with the AVI file for download (just under 697KB ). After viewing it, we decided that the quality was not good enough for broadband and pumped up the quality (and file size) to the version you see here. File size has more than doubled, but remains under 2MB (1.66MB - 15% more than fits on a standard 3.5" floppy diskette).

2) Preloader Using the Riva Producer program, we were able to construct a SINGLE video, which shows the downloading progress, when you hover your mouse over the video window. (For the last product, we LOST the preloader progress bar, because it was hidden behing the 1st video, which loaded the MAIN video in the background, before playing. Annoying.)

Now that we have a solution, we hope to bring you even MORE videos of Alex, or whatever other video we might happen to capture using our HP 735 digital camera. We hope you enjoy watching Alex "Feeding George".

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Alex on Art

March 1st, 2005  · stk

We try to expose Alex to something new, each day (whether it's big or small, no matter). We've been keeping some of them in a growing list, which you can read HERE.

Yesterday's project was a 'first' for Alex ... a bonafide 'art project'. I confined her to (er, sat her in) her high chair and placed before her, a bevy of highlighters. She promptly grasped the idea (as well as few pens) and using her artistic flair, put her vision on the canvas. She had a good time of it, but did need encouragement.

The project was a success and we now have our first, of a long series, of "refrigerator art". And now, as parents, we're now presented with the question: What do we keep? Where do we keep it? Where do we draw the line?

We cherish all the things that Alex makes. Well, maybe not ALL things, cause some of the stuff she makes STINKS! We don't cherish that very much at all! ;) In fact, we often try to pawn THAT chore off on the other. "I did it last, it's YOUR turn," we say, with varying degrees of success. "I've been with her ALL day and you need some 'bonding' time with her!" (one of my oft-employed lines).

We were first faced with this question when Alex returned from her trip to Vancouver, just after the New Year. She returned with her very FIRST drawing (a study in pencil, below). It was just a small slip of paper, her very first, so we kept it in a folder. (We also have decided to keep the paper towel drawing, as it is her very first COLOR drawing. But I tell you, it's got to STOP! Otherwise, we'll be holding on to projects (some of which won't be so small) for WAY too long. (Ask my parent's about a certain "Wilbur the pig" or Rachel's parents about a doll-house that's 4-foot tall and three-feet wide ... though it was Syd's project, not Rachel's, but you get the idea.)

Are we destined to have drawers crammed full of 1st, 2nd & 3rd grade art projects? Is there ANY way to avoid this? (I thought by taking a digital picture and posting it on the Internet, we could just do away with the 'original' ... yet I find myself hesitating). I'm thinking of it more as an INSURANCE policy, in case the precious original is damaged, somehow. If anyone has any suggestions, PLEASE let us know, before we become buried in a pile of momentos that take over a drawer, a desk, a closet, or *eek* a WHOLE ROOM!

In the meantime, enjoy a quiet moment of fine art, brought to you by Alexandra Lynn - a blooming artist ... or is that BUDDING artist?

-----

P.S. - This particular artwork is a one-of-a-kind! Not so much because she'll never make something similar, but rather, because she ATE the tips off of three of the markers ... so she CAN'T make another such drawing. (At least, not until we buy more highlighters. Ack! :roll: )

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