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Archives for: April 2005

Filed in:Alexandra

Slip-Sliding Away

April 28th, 2005  · stk

Now that winter is over (we hope, and pray, and think it is) ... our little girl has had quite a bit of fun playing outside. One of her (new) favorite things: going down the slide! And now, just a couple of weeks after the snow melted, she's learned to do it all by herself.

We think this video is pretty funny, because for all the times that she goes down the slide "proper", we happened to catch the ONE time that she's going down "backwards". *Sigh* Oh well, it DOES show how much she looks forward to Paul's visits, as her interest is diverted prior to taking off down the slide and results in the backwards trip. You can also see her taking off for the corner of the yard, which is where the "Hi Paul" photo was taken.

06-May-2005 - I forgot to put in the link to the video AVI file, for those that might prefer to download and watch at home (non-broadband types). Here you go ...

I wish that I only had good things to report about our little "angel", but alas, I must admit that this past week has been pretty tough. I really don't know WHY we feed her so much food. It only results in lots of diaper "material" and frequent diaper changes AND gives her the energy that drains our own so much. This last little while, she's really been raising hell, doing all the things that she KNOWS she's not supposed to do and while we're busy cleaning up one mess, she's off making another. It's enough to drive one completely mad!

Our little hairless wonder is teething (again) as she's gaining her 15th and 16th tooth. That explains all the extra drool and why she's got her hand in her mouth (or something) constantly. Still, the holy terror is really starting to wreak havoc on the house, the yard and (her recent sport) CHASING poor Tuxedo. We admire the fact that he so tolerant with her, as we were afraid he'd be quick to scratch, but now we find ourselves almost wishing he WOULD scratch, as it might force Alex to think twice before chasing him pell-mell around the house.

Oh, the Oop did have a big, bad tumble down the basement stairs a couple of days ago. Rachel was in her office (downstairs) and Scott was in his (upstairs). We both heard this thud, bam, boom ... then a wail that would wake the dead. Poor Alex (arms full of objects) was trying to make her way down the basement stairs and took a nasty fall. No one knows just how far she went, but it was a bad landing, as she got a double bloody nose out of the deal and a right bloody lip. She also has a cold, so there was a mixture of snot, blood and tears that accompanied the piercing wail that would never end. Finally, we managed to calm her, but her fat lip remained, even after the nose stopped flowing. It was quite an event and the lip scabbed over and is still fat, a few days later.

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Whoo's Got a New Page?

April 28th, 2005  · stk
It’s with great pleasure that I announce that the migration of the site from WP1.2.2 to WP1.5 is complete and was a grand success!

Note to self: Ask Whoo about how she did the 2-col archives (how did she split the list?) AND about doing "email-a-friend".

Damn, I'm starting to get Jea! Check it out
(Of course, you have to admire the CSS layout of the page! ;))

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Oop Milestones

April 27th, 2005  · stk



Rachel has been keeping Alex's list of "firsts", which we've been sporadically maintaining. It's fun to look back at her progress, remembering the first time she did this, or that. Gosh, she's growing up fast. We thought we'd share the list.

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2nd Term Over

April 26th, 2005  · stk

Thank God!

Rachel sat down to her fourth, and last, final examination at 9AM this morning. She's one hour into the three-hour Pharmacology exam. In just under two hours, she'll have completed the 2nd term (of 6 terms total), for the UofA after-degree nursing program. She will, no doubt, be relieved it's over, second-guess her exam responses and bite her nails till the final grades are posted. Regardless of the marks, this term has been very busy and every one of the 70 or so post-grad students will agree that it was a tough go (families or not).

Rachel has only 5 days off, before she turns around and starts the very next term. And to toss a bit of salt into the wound, the very next term begins with an intensive, 3-week, 6-credit condensed course. I cannot recite all of the details now, but in that three weeks, they'll be plenty to do, a couple of mid-terms, a term paper, final exam and nearly a chapter per day of reading - 666 pages total. Yuck.

I'm proud of Rachel. Not only for getting very good grades, sitting well in the top third of her class, but also for taking care of two babies at home (the Oop, whom you've met, and her dad - the much bigger baby). Time managing full-time University work is difficult by itself, but to do it with a family makes it nearly insane. Great job, baby! Enjoy your break! (We're going out to dinner TONIGHT!)

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"Hi, Paul"

April 25th, 2005  · stk

Alex loves visitors and our neighbors seem happy to oblige. Taylor, the pre-teen who lives about 4 houses down and across the alley, visits on a semi-regular basis. Tucker and a group of kids (all 10-years or younger) have been coming by on weekends, playing with Alex (until she falls and starts to cry, which scares them all away). Diane, Wayne and Grant, our neighbors, love Alex to death, buying her dresses, baking her muffins and cooing at her through the fence. Even their Rotweiler dog, "Roxy", seems to enjoy Alex, sniffing at her through the fence, or trying to jump on her when she's taken out for a walk (as if saying, "come on, PLAY with me"). Of course, she's a tad big compared to Alex, but Alex giggles when she gets her nose close.

Yep, the Oop loves company and according to her, there's no better company than Paul, her buddy from across the lane. He's 75, a retired firefighter and lives alone (his wife having passed some time ago). Now that the weather has gotten nicer, he visits on a regular basis (he's pretty sweet on the wee one). He doesn't come empty-handed either, bringing a bit of chocolate, strawberries, blueberries or some other treat for Alex, who has begun to anticipate these gastronomic goodies (ahem ... and Paul too, of course). Now that she's starting to string words together, she'll often walk to the end of the yard, peek through the fence, all the while saying, "Hi Paul!"

It doesn't matter if Paul is actually THERE or not, she's just anticipating his next visit! It's all rather cute, though it breaks our heart to see her forlornly pacing the back fence, repeating time and again, "Hi Paul, Hi Paul," when Paul isn't there ... like a puppy, crying for its owner ... eager for his next visit.

Alex talks to Paul on her play phone, in the living room, putting it to her ear and saying, "Hi, Paul". And you know how toddlers love to repeat things ... well, we've heard a lot of "Hi Paul", whether we're in the back yard, in the house, in the bath or eating dinner.

Seems that Alex is pretty taken with Paul too.

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CSS

Photo Zoom: b2evo How-to

April 23rd, 2005  · stk

Getting the Photo/Caption Zoom Working in your Blogs

When I posted the CSS Photo-Caption Zoom entry, it was meant for a larger web audience than just b2evolution users. However, since I posted an entry about it on the b2evolution forums, I've been getting some questions about how (exactly) to get it going in a b2evoution blog.

The nail was hit squarely on the head, when Bomani left a comment saying:

I've searched your site and I'm trying to find explicit instructions on "how" and "where" to enter the code to use the Photo-Zoom feature in b2volution.

I see the code (html, css), but I have no idea on where they should be inserted.

Please help!

If beaten about the head soundly enough emails, comments and the like, even I can take a hint! ;)

To get the photo/caption zoom working on your b2evo blog, read on!

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Get Quicken 2005 Free

April 21st, 2005  · stk

Maybe Even Make Money!

Here's the deal.

We don't normally buy every new release of Quicken. We've been using the 2002 version, happily, since that year. But on April 19th our version of Quicken was "sunsetted" (don't you just love the sound of that?). What's that mean? It's a fancy word that means Intuit is no longer is "supporting" this version. No updates or fixes, for sure, but we never suspected that it ALSO means that one can't automatically update portfolio prices via the Intuit website, but it does. On April 19th, we just happened to be trying to update our portfolio prices (which we don't do very often because it seems that each time we do, we just end up crying ... but that's another story). Anyway ... we kept getting a "server error". We went to the Intuit support website, which is how we determined that our version was no loger supported. If we wanted to update our portfolio prices, we'd have to buy a newer version.

Quicken costs $59 if you buy it directly from Intuit ($39 for an upgrage). So we plunked down our $39 and downloaded the upgrade (which also comes with a will-maker program). I installed the program and noticed a bunch of new icons on my desktop. (I detest such icons. So much so that you won't find a single one on my desktop). So I wasn't too excited about these icons, one of which, looked like the one here.

The $50 hooked me and I clicked it. Wow ... 3% interest on a no-minimum savings account linked electronically to your checking account AND a $50.00 bonus for new customers that have purchased Quicken. This is nearly twice the rate I'm getting on my current savings account, which has a minimum balance requirement. Sign me up!

So, if you live in the United States, are not currently an ING customer, you can buy/upgrade to Quicken 2005, then open an ING savings account and collect on their $50 sign-on bonus. You can't go wrong with either one - a new and improved Quicken program and a great savings account with a $50 sign-on bonus. Note: While all Quicken buyers are eligible for the ING bonus, the price you pay for Quicken will determine how much you "make" on the deal. Buying Quicken from a local store like Staples or Office Depot is recommended, as the price for the program is generally less than if you buy directly from Intuit. It must be the "Quicken 2005" product and the offer is good through 12/31/05. (For more details, click the orange ball.)

You only have to look past the orange television advertisements with the guy talking about "save your money". If you can do that, then things definitely are brighter in shades of orange! ;)

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Shake'n Bako

April 17th, 2005  · stk

Edmonton is about 1,300 kilometers from Bakersfield, California, my childhood stomping grounds, but it doesn't keep the news from migrating north of the border (thanks to friends with internet connections). Recently, two interesting tidbits crossed my desk. Both shook the city.

Bakersfield (AKA "Bako" or "the armpit of San Joaquin valley") is mostly known for Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, the "Onion Field" murders, a certain Rolling Stones song, really hot summers & taking the brunt of many a Hollywood joke.

SHAKE YOUR BOOTY: Yesterday, a magnitude-5.1 earthquake rattled residents. It was felt as far away as downtown Los Angeles (about 80 miles from the epicenter). The quake was near the town of Maricopa, 25 miles southwest of Bakersfield. Besides mild tremors, no serious damage was reported. You get a sense for what Maricopa is like, from the API newswire article.

The quake hit at 12:18 PM, but "didn't knock anything off the walls of [Nelda's] mobile home". (Nelda lives on the "right side of the railroad tracks"!). It's that kind of place. Interesting too, that Nelda was preparing dinner at the time the quake hit, while the only other person interviewed, Larry, was having breakfast. What are these people thinking? Hello, it's 12:18 PM. Anybody eating LUNCH?

KICK YOUR BOOTY: The other tidbit isn't quite as recent, but it shook up Bakersfield as much, if not more. There's been a photo floating around on the internet for nearly a year and a half (I received it only a week ago - which only shows how far out of the loop I am), accompanied with the following:

The Kern County, California, Sheriff's Department orders plain white patrol units and has the graphics applied locally. In this case, what they ordered was not quite what they got.

This car was driven for 1 week before an officer noticed what the graphics company employee did on the passenger side of the car. The employee did this on his last day working for the graphics company before he retired.

In this age of digital image manipulation, it's difficult to believe your eyes. As usual, I turned to the 'net to answer the question and, as it turns out, truth is stranger than fiction!

Firstly, it appears that the image HAS been manipulated, but only to a degree. (The part about the doughnuts was photoshopped). The "Kick Ass" part, wasn't, although there are conflicting stories regarding WHO is responsible. As it turned out, it wasn't a paint-shop employee, but rather, the Sheriff's department itself! Mack Wimbash, long time CHP spokesperson turned Sheriff, is partly responsible for his own faux pas, by casually suggesting such a logo was amusing. Locker-room talk gone arwy.

A local news station (KGET 17) ran a story on the incident detailing a timeline of exposure and attempted cover-up. It appears that Mack's efforts to be 'one of the boys' cost him popularity points around town.

Identifying an Urban Legend

Everyone gets those forwarded emails. You know, the ones that have passed through too many email inboxes and would be getting unreadable had they been FAXed. Are thieves targeting women at gas stations by claiming to have picked up your "lost" money? Is Congress passing a bill that would levy a tax on emails?

Is it a fraud or should you applaud?

Usually, one can uncover whether a story is true, by conducting a quick search on the internet. In my searching, I often come across www.snopes.com. They do a great job of identifying those 'urban legends'. It's worth a bookmark. Here's what they had to say on the whole ass-kicking fiasco.

I also found this story, as well. Apparently there was even a "We'll BITE Your Ass" logo pasted on a K-9 car. Smart move, Mack.

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CSS

Blog Button Rollover Images

April 15th, 2005  · stk

Putting a Face to a Name

Lots of folks like b2evolution's multi-blogging capabilities and use it to create a community of bloggers (family members, artist's groups, church congregations, to name a few). This often means that the blog name is the author's name. Why not (like Adam asked) associate an image with each author, so that when you hover over the blog button, you see their photo? (The image on the right shows an example for "Jessica's Blog").

Great idea Adam!

Our blog isn't a multi-blog, so I was reluctant to pursue this question, because I couldn't test it. Unbeknownst to Adam, the technique he wanted to use (Eric Meyer's pure CSS pop-up) is similar to the one I (independently) developed for our image/caption zoom (the "pop" demonstrated by many of the images here). This hooked me!

First, I made a mock-up of Adam's page, where you can see the rollover concept in action and view the inline CSS & HTML using 'view source'. I then dusted off my server software (yellowtip), fired up the demonstration b2evo blog (which IS a multi-blog) and got the whole thing working on my desktop.

This tutorial will provide xhtml(strict)-valid code and use a pure-CSS method to create image rollovers for b2evolution blog buttons. It works with both MSIE and FireFox browsers. Further, this rollover technique can be applied to ANY link, not just b2evolution blog buttons, though this is the focus.

If this is something you might like to add to your site, read on ...

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Knee Knocker

April 14th, 2005  · stk

Finally, spring has sprung! It's raining today (sleeting, actually), but the past 5 or so days have just been beautiful. Glorious sunshine, warm(ish) temperatures and a snow-free ground to walk upon. We are happy. :D

It's been a great relief, to take Alex out-of-doors. She knows what 'going outside' means. She toddles down the steps (crawling backwards down them still) and into the mud room. She makes a valiant attempt to don her jacket or sweater and now knows to put on her 'sun hat'). Once outside, she heads down to the swing set, hoping that we get the hint and give her a push or two. Maybe a ride down the plastic slide, which has rapidly become one of her favorite 'thrills'! She'll climb on the glider and can even manage to get it rocking by herself. When she's not swinging, she's exploring. The problem with this is that she has no fear of anything and is more willing to expand her horizons than Mom & Dad are comfortable with. Combine this curiosity with a backyard that isn't fenced, too many cars going by, driven by people that are 5 minutes late for their very important date and you have the makings of a disaster.

So, Scott built a knee-high knocker fence that spans the width of the driveway. It's short enough for adults to step over, but tall enough to keep Alex confined to the backyard. Because we're in a rental home, we weren't too keen on dumping a pile of cash into the solution, so we ended up stealing :oops: liberating some wood pallets (though I mock, they were, indeed, destined for the trash). Busted apart and with the nails removed, the pallets provided the raw materials. Scott designed it with a pull-out section, so we can get the lawn mower and other large objects through.

Thus, the very first spring project: "The Oop Containment Field", has been completed.

That's where we've been for the past few days ... outside, enjoying the sunshine and the warmth. We've thatched the back yard (getting 10-12 large trash-bags full of dead grass ... amazing). Built the fence (and painted it white). Pushed Alex about a million times on the swing and sent her down the slide, screaming with glee. Scott even managed to fly the $1 plastic helicopter a few times, before (idiot pilot that he is) crashed the thing into an electrical wire, breaking off a rotor. Until that time, Alex had great fun watching it fly and retrieving it. (Repairs have been attempted, but it is doubtful the thing will fly right again). We've raked up the garden, dusted off the deck chairs, had two BBQ dinners and gulped plenty of fresh air.

Ah... FINALLY, one of the mildest winters in Edmonton (but still the worst winter either of us have EVER experienced) is over! "You hear that snow? Stay AWAY!" we say.

Rachel even managed to avoid massive amounts of studying and joined in the family fun. This is her last week of classes and final exams are just around the corner. She's already bemoaning the effort that will be required over the next couple of weeks and the fact that she'll have only 5 days off before the madness begins again.

Unfortunately, during the building of the containment field, Scott (the old bugger that he is) managed to hurt his right knee. Probably nothing that time won't heal, but he's hobbling about, downing ibuprofen like candy and constantly complaining of pain. (Rachel can't wait for his knee to get better, as she is tired of him using it as an excuse to get out of tasks that involve kneeling - like diapering the Oop, bathing the Oop, putting the Oop's toys away.) Scott's worried that this acute knee pain just might become a chronic problem. ;) ha ha

ENGINEERING SNAFU: Rachel pointed out a design flaw in the containment field, yesterday. She noticed that IF I hadn't placed the 4x4 post in the CENTER of the driveway, but instead, had placed it closer to the existing fence and made the whole middle section removable, we could get the Honda Accord (which is being stored) out of the garage. As it is now, we'll have to dismantle the fence when we move from here. (Of course, fixing it now would mean dismantling the fence, obtaining more lumber and rebuilding the majority of the fence). Hmmmm. The fence stays, but Scott is kicking himself for not thinking of this earlier! ;) "D'oh!"

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Posting via Email

April 6th, 2005  · stk

Hello World

This is a test of HTML

The above outlined text & color may not seem like such a big deal, but you might think it was a bigger deal if I told you that it was accomplished via email. That's right ... blogging 'on the run'!

"So how did you achieve such a feat?" you ask. Well, the answer, like so many others, lies in the questions that are asked on the b2evolution forums. Specifically, a fellow by the name of Matt, was looking for a blogging solution. He had heard that b2evolution did NOT support blogging via email and came to check this out for himself.

I picked up the torch because (1) I had chosen diary-x as a blogging solution in 2001 because it was the ONLY blogging solution I found (at the time) that offered blogging via email (our PCT journal was written using this software and you can see it here) and (2) I hadn't yet blogged by email and because I might want to one day, decided that NOW might be a good time to figure out how to do it!

There is a "How to post by email" tutorial, but it's based on version 0.8.6 and didn't do it for me. Further, as explained by this thread, many people have been experiencing problems trying to post via email.

This article will provide the means by which you too, can make b2evolution blog entries via email. Hopefully, with less of the frustration I experienced in doing it.

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XHTML

XHTML-Strict ImageMap

April 6th, 2005  · stk

Posting a valid XHTML 1.0 (Strict) ImageMap

EDIT: If you want an XHTML 1.1 valid image map, read these this article.

Note: This article fails once again passes validation because it is written to XHTMLv1.0 (Strict) standards and our pages are now used to be validating against XHTMLv1.1. (Update: I got tired of our website failing in FireFox, using XHTMLv1.1, whenever code had a simple tag typo. We just fell back to using v1.0 Strict, once again.)

 hotspot: clicking takes you to Adidas.com image

Concept

If you move your mouse over the image on the right, in the lightened area, you'll see a "hotspot" there. If you click on this hotspot, this page will open into the Adidas running shoes homepage. (Use the browser 'back' button to return, if you would like to see what the Adidas homepage looks like.) THIS is a simple example of an "image map", where a certain area of an image is linked to another page & clicking it will take the visitor to that page. It's a simple example because there is only one "hot spot" on the image and it is rectangular in shape. One can have many hot spots and the shapes can be highly irregular.

Recently, someone on the b2evolution forums asked about posting such an animal in b2evolution - see the original discussion. As it turns out, it's very straight forward, but one has to modify the _formatting.php file so that the html-checker will recognize the code (which isn't as straight forward).

This tutorial provides xhtml(strict)-valid code and shows you what needs to be modified in the /conf/_formatting.php file.

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Half Birthday #2

April 4th, 2005  · stk

I had a tough time getting this video posted, for some reason. (Probably because it's vertical). BUT ... because it took so much time ... her highness (the Oop) is already up from her mid-morning nap and READY to eat some lunch, chuck a few balls around and wreak havoc on the house. So the rest of the post (and pics), will have to wait till LATER.

Later ... (after a big lunch, play time, a poopy diaper, a visit with Paul across the alley, a walk to the postal drop box 5 blocks away, trying to carry too many pine cones, several chocolate covered M&M's (Smarties), and some cookies for snack ... finally, the Oop went down for a nap and I can finish the entry)!

Faster than Alex can put toys in the trash can, her second half-birthday came and went. Not that we had a big celebration or anything, but at this age, a half birthday is more of a milestone than Dad's (or Mom's) birthdays are. It's been a full THIRD of her life since celebrating her first birthday, back in October.

Dad made a cake and decorated it (Mom and Alex enjoyed licking the frosting off the spatula). On her first half-birthday, we were in Vancouver under sunny skies. This year, we were under sunny skies, but 1200 kilometers north and east, with snow blanketing the backyard (but melting fast). Last year, the cake was among her first attempts at 'solid food', but this year she's a solid-food pro and managed to eat with her own fork (well, sort of). Last year, she blew out her diapers. This year, she blew out the candles! Ahh, the difference a year makes.

Alex had a fun time, eating cake and we hope that you enjoy the footage of her milestone candle-blowing ceremony (too cute).

The video file is about 1.5MB in size, so those on dial-up may wish to download the AVI video instead of trying to view the Flash version online. (The AVI file is 1.9MB in size.)

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Our Life

BC Nursing Crisis

April 2nd, 2005  · stk

The Vancouver Sun newspaper ran a special article on Saturday, March 19th entitled "B.C. Heading for a Nursing Crisis". The upside, of course, is that Rachel will be graduating with a 4-year Nursing degree in little over a year. Job prospects in B.C. (and elsewhere) look good.

The article isn't available online, so I can't put up a link (I guess the Vancouver Sun wants you to actually PAY to read their paper ... go figure!). Some of the salient points are highlighted, below.

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