metawidget: close-up of freewheel of a bicycle (bicycle)
Some things starting with the letter B, as suggested by [livejournal.com profile] rottenfruit:

Something I hate: Broken promises: personal, political, whatever — with a particular disdain for broken promises of amends. Hey, Kelowna Accord!

Something I love: Bicycling! I am looking forward to the season being in again (for me, I know there are hardcore year-round bicycle users).

Somewhere I've been: The Biodome, although it's been a while. I hope to bring the kids sometime soon, maybe this year.

Somewhere I'd like to go: Aside from the Biodome, maybe Boston, to soak up some of the great intellectual history and wander about the U.S. equivalent of Montréal (in terms of student concentration).

Someone I know: Beatrice at work. We're not super-close but she's been helpful and kind in career and getting-to-know-people spheres.

A film I like: The Birdcage was fun, probably of its time but when I watched it I liked it and found it had some substance.

A book I like: The Burning House, by Jay Ingram, one of my favourite science-explainer writers. Hemispheres! Awareness! Braiiiins!
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
It's been a busy midwinter for and around me. Everyone in the household
has taken a turn or two being sick -- gastro, conjunctivitis, cold and/or
flu... I took my first sick day in a while and I'm glad I didn't try to go
in that day.

it gets better )

I guess all this entry is missing is a beer review at this point. Maybe
next entry -- I have been drinking enjoyable beer from time to time lately!
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
It feels like the new year has shaken lots of things up for me, largely in
a good way. It's surprising -- the very end of last year felt quietly
dire, and the beginning of this one, despite Oscar having just fought off a
week's worth of gastro and the weather having had us gone to ground much of
the time, has felt good. I'm starting a new position, with some staff and
some of my favorite technical matter, in Justice statistics -- it's acting,
maybe six months to a year, and an exciting challenge. I already feel a
big difference in how I interact with my chief as well as the pace and
choppiness of my day -- I like the new interaction style and the
big-picture duties, but the task-switching pace will be a challenge.

In at-work-but-not-work news, there are a couple of good things. First, I
am on a tear at lunchtime Scrabble -- a couple of convincing wins have me
sitting higher in the standings than I ever have. Probably more meaningful
to my well-being is that I stopped waffling and signed back up for yoga.
My old instructor had retired, so a new class with a new instructor: it's
"hip opening yoga" according to the title, but it feels more or less like
the very first class I attended way back in 2005 at Concordia, but with
extra blocks and balls. The instructor, Janice, is a bit tougher and has a
drier sense of humour than either of my previous instructors, which on
balance I think I will appreciate.

The home life is feeling more connected -- maybe things just settled better
after an exhausting late 2013, maybe it's a slowly improving sleep
schedule, or both of us just developing good patterns, but I feel like
we're managing to carve out more and better couple time. I'm finding Oscar
easier to have fun with, too -- he chimes in when we're reading a familiar
book, he comes up with extensive justifications for me spinning him around
(although he calls it "sponging", hence "this is sponging music, papa!"),
and his playing-with-others skills are improving. I'm looking forward to
milder weather soon, because I think the bitter cold is cramping his style
-- him tearing around outside more will be good for us all.
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
Ask Culture and Guess Culture (Found via Captain Awkward)

I think I'm guess by nature, but I can see how ask would be a good one to have a feel for, at least to pull out of my back pocket when I need it.

I'm not sure which model fits more at work — big-organization people, civil servants in particular reading this: what do you think?
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (platypus)
Family photo

This weekend [livejournal.com profile] the_arachne got married to her fiancé (no username :) ), and they had a photographer taking shots of volunteers after dinner. It was a rare opportunity for a family portrait!

It's been kind of insanely busy lately — Elizabeth's album finished, the launch shows performed, the wedding of last weekend (at which Oscar and Elizabeth both got named parts, and I wrecked my pants, first stooping for Vivien and then dancing), a promotion process at work (my interview shirt = my wedding shirt), and a research project that can be describes mostly positively as tilting at windmills, and fun to work on but challenging. I also assembled a team and applied for some research days at work, which would be a cool opportunity to manage something and fix a problem I find cool. Now I still have things to do, but applications are with committees, most of the album-related stuff is done, and Elizabeth and I are casting about for bits of relaxing time for us to celebrate and recuperate.
metawidget: Oscar in a diaper, crouching as if to fit into the frame and looking quizzical (oscar)
While we set up for Elizabeth's performance at Dusty Owl: "I'm a roadie!"

While he was in the kid seat on Elizabeth's bike, going home: "I'm on the combine! Can we cut the corn?"

Oscar is obviously getting an interesting sense of the world of work and will contribute original stuff to play at recess!
metawidget: a basket of vegetables: summer and winter squash, zucchini, tomatoes. (food)
Vivien is walking and climbing and generally up to stuff!

Here are a couple of photos of Oscar and Vivien:

indoors and outdoors )

In other news, this week has been insane. Elizabeth has been mixing her album, I did an exam in our promotion process, and Saturday was full of busy with people dropping by and me biking out to Aylmer on a super-secret present-hunting mission. I think the exam went okay (but I'm not dead certain that I'll make it to the interview), the album is over at the mastering company, and I succeeded in getting the birthday present. Elizabeth lost her wallet coming home from finishing mixing, though, so she's not quite out of the woods yet. I've been working on the booklet to go with the album, which feels like it's going well. A few fill-in-the-blanks in the credits and front page, and some swaps of pictures into layouts already done, and it should be ready for the printers!

Our pear tree has been very fruitful:

a modest portion of our bountiful pear harvest )

...but I think it's done for the year. The kids really like pears, so it's contributed to our very limited use of the produce section during the warm months.

Year Lists

Aug. 11th, 2013 03:52 pm
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
Well, I think I managed on average to floss about half of the days in year #33, and I've had a lighter touch with the filters online and in person. I think this was a four- or five- massage bar year and I got somewhat better at bringing back beer bottles. The mortgage breathed its last in May, and now our "make the house warmer and the kitchen fit us better" fund is growing fast and I'll be closing in on my RRSP deduction limit. We have a six-foot wooden fence with a gate that Oscar keeps figuring out as we secure it better (now he just wriggles under it), but at least he's down to one choke-point, and we did try! On the stuff I didn't do so well in from last year's list, I didn't get that check-up (no family doctor and not quite enough drive to get it done at a walk-in clinic), and I don't know that I made any big strides in relationship communication — appreciation, I think, and adventures, for sure, and some fine-tuning in timing and medium, but it's something I can still try to work on.

In the no-deadline parts of the list, we increased doctor coverage from zero of us to Vivien, and maybe Oscar in the fall. I started a new position, for which I'm learning a bunch of stuff and alternating between feeling competent and feeling like I just opened an overstuffed closet and the top shelf fell on me. My aches and pains had a good go at me in the spring, but I think I'm done with sciatica for a while and feeling generally as good as I was at last list time. In improving the house, we got a dishwasher, which might count, and I fixed the back stairs last week — their surprise collapse would've been hard on the comfort of whoever was on them at the time. The kids are gaining competence at a frightening pace and Oscar declared he wanted hugs and fire for his birthday party, so we're doing something right even as I feel I could use more patience and humour sometimes.

Here's what I would like to achieve in the next year:
  • Keep up the flossing.
  • Communicate better in relationships.
  • Continue to wear through massage bars.
  • Make the house cheaper to heat, either with insulation or a heating system upgrade, or both.
  • Getting a GP and a checkup/vaccination update might be a tall order, but I will attempt to start allergy shots so I'm popping fewer antihistamines next summer. If I can do allergies and deferred maintenance, all the better.
  • Somehow fix the Wike's stroller mode. As it is, the walking wheel doesn't hold up under our frequent use — three bolts to one frame member is no match for the leverage exerted by bumps and curbs.
  • Give the promotion process this fall my best shot, and accept whatever comes of it gracefully.
  • Reach out to a few more people at work in the hope of developing a new friendship or two.


Here are some longer-term things:
  • Round out home heating improvements and make the kitchen suit us better.
  • Raise competent, well-adjusted kids. Do so with good humour, love and trust in them.
  • Take care of my body and try and make my list of aches and pains not increase monotonically.
  • Get family doctors for all of us in the household.
  • Continue to like my job, be good at it, and be worthy of the respect of my co-workers.
  • Keep learning new things, and consolidate dabbling into competent in new areas from time to time.


I hope I'll do at least as well between now and next birthday as I did in the last year or so.

Late May

May. 26th, 2013 09:19 am
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
I'm feeling considerably more firmly back in the saddle at work now — documenting, developing, simulating Bad People trying to derive personal information from our released data… the work and the work-adjacent rhythms are back, for the most part. I've got zero wins in four games of lunchtime Scrabble, though, which is below my admittedly-not-stellar average. More so than with one kid, I really feel the pressure to get home straight after work and even out the numbers for fussy o'clock.

Vivien's has been getting mobility figured out the last couple of weeks — she's crawling around, pulling herself up on the furniture and twisting around during diaper changes. Oscar's language is getting more sophisticated — switching around "you" and "I" as appropriate, for instance. He's still not easy to get to bed, though.

We've had pretty busy weekends since I got back to work. Elizabeth was playing some music at Umi the first weekend, we went to help out at Raven's Knoll the second (and just missed police checkpoints in Eganville, apparently). Last weekend, my parents took a day trip up to visit us on Sunday, and this weekend we went to the Great Glebe Garage Sale, the catch-up potluck at the birthing centre, and the Ravenswing DIY/Craft/etc. fair. We've gotten out to various things during the week, too. I'm feeling quite tired, for some reason.

Friday, Elizabeth's parents are taking both kids, and we get our first actually kid-free date since Vivien was born, for our fifth anniversary. I'm looking forward to it; I hope we're well-rested enough to enjoy it!
metawidget: Oscar and Vivien on a couch (Oscar 2.25 years, Vivien 4 mos) (kids)

Vivien in May Queen paper crown
Vivien came with all of us to the Beltaine/May Day ritual at Judith's, wearing this paper May Queenish crown. We put it in with the offering bowl.

more Vivien ) work )

Upheavals

Apr. 24th, 2013 08:40 am
metawidget: Person sitting cross-legged from the rear, in black and white with noise and scratches (body)
I put my shoulder out this morning... Oscar had broken the coffee press, and I was looking for the last bit of glass, crouched at counter top level, and I reached to move a dish the wrong way. Ugh. I got it back in pretty quickly and eventually found the bit of glass. I felt it was a little crunchy lately, maybe due to being tired and maybe a bit stressed about the return to work and life in general. Getting Oscar to sleep continues to be a bit of a crapshoot these days, and we're doing it in shifts more and more. He doesn't tend to sleep in after long battles to get him to sleep, either. On the good side, he's getting more range and some more focus when walking places; I took him on foot and Vivien strapped to me to the grocery store yesterday, about 1.5 km, and he didn't need carrying until I popped him in the cart. We took the bus home and he sat patiently in his seat until it was time to get off.

This time next week, I should be somewhat re-oriented at work. I don't have a clear vision as to how I'll get back up to speed, but there'll probably be meetings with HR to straighten out stuff arising from parental leave and make sure I get paid, a supervisor meeting about expectations and learning plans this year, and I hope there'll be some introductions and orientation with the new clients. There'll probably be some re-connecting with the confidentiality people, too, and with friends who I don't work with directly (or don't work with anymore), and figuring out what organized activities and committees I want to take part in. I'll be getting used to a very different structure of day, aside from the content of the work — coming home and shifting into high parent/cook gear right away (and helping Elizabeth get out of high parent gear), and generally being more focued when I am around home, I hope. I'll have to make a point of relaxing (but moving quickly) on the bike or bus ride home! Even with the extra responsibilities, I suspect that the increased contrast between adult-land and parent-land in my life will be a net reduction in stress.
metawidget: Our very fresh baby, backlit in blue with funky goggles, looking spiffy but a little like an alien invader (Vivien raygun)
Mostly because [personal profile] commodorified demands it, here is a picture of Vivien this afternoon, taken while Oscar was napping:

Vivien on a pillow, smiling

Life is pretty good of late: my leg and cold are mostly better, I still have just under two weeks of leave until I'm back at work (I'm enjoying the leave but looking forward to work, too), it finally feels like spring here (I got to wear short sleeves outside yesterday!) and I'm feeling pretty good about it all.
metawidget: Oscar and Vivien on a couch (Oscar 2.25 years, Vivien 4 mos) (oscar and vivien)
Last week, I attended a two-and-a-half-day course on mediation and interest-based negotiation in my steward capacity. It was a good course — lots to think about, a nice mix of people, good anecdotes and interesting role-plays (including some really hard ones).

The most stressful part was knowing that I'd be leaving Elizabeth in charge of two kids for the duration, with only a couple of stretches of drop-in company. The kids are great, but they're still a pretty normal four-month-old who is breastfeeding, and a spirited, clever, athletic toddler who's still kind of adjusting to being a big sibling. She was a bit worried about how that would go, and I felt a bit guilty about leaving her in that situation — I know I'll have to for longer and more regularly when I go back to work (and that many families have to send someone back to full-time work a lot earlier than eight months postpartum), but by then it'll be nice out and the kids will be that little bit more independent.

After the first day, I returned to a very quiet house — she'd managed to get both of them to nap at the same time. I think our place has been that quiet with two awake adults in it about twice since Oscar was born. After the second day, there was not as much napping going on, and there were definitely things that needed doing, but again, everyone was in basically good spirits. The half-day at the end worked out well, too. I know this may not seem like huge news, but two kids simultaneously for a couple of hours has been tricky up 'til now, and we were both a bit anxious about how things were going to turn out.

Yay for my awesome wife and for things going better than feared! I imagine that's the most consecutive workdays I'll be out all leave, and it'll be a whole other kettle of fish when the whole routine has to change (first with evening teaching for Elizabeth, and then the complementary work schedules in late April), but as test experiences go, I'm happy, relieved and proud.
metawidget: [garblegarblescript] Political! Science! for Amusement! [pictures of John A. Macdonald with swirly eyes] (science)

Monday, I did my last little bits of due diligence, and now I know that on my return to work, I'll be working on the only survey we do that asks its respondents to do curl-ups. There are a lot of other cool things about it too, like a just-in-time sampling strategy and very close monitoring of response rates in the field, and a bunch of cool co-workers in the unit who I think I will like working with.

Last night, I was acclaimed to another year as the secretary of my union subgroup executive. I've been doing it for a while; it keeps me in the loop and someone has to do it.

metawidget: Oscar in a diaper, crouching as if to fit into the frame and looking quizzical (oscar)

Oscar is a little sick lately — he's been sleeping a lot more, sniffling a bit, a little subdued and a bit feverish. He was pukey for a day or so, but now that seems to be over. We're pretty sure the heat of lately isn't helping. Good thing the rain is coming to clear the air. The fact that he's napping more is sort of nice, if we weren't a little thrown off by his fragility when he's awake and the fact that he's pretty obviously not liking being sick.

Elizabeth is making Father's Day cake, with Oscar supervising :) We've been seeing lots of family lately — one of my cousins is moving into the area with his wife and infant, they crashed here along with another cousin while house-hunting, and then we went over to see their new place yesterday and saw my aunt and uncle, and introduced Oscar to another cousin and her friend. Our newly-local cousins seem to have a similar parenting style and bicycle orientation: they're looking into not owning a car in the capital, too. I think they can pull it off. This summer is going to involve at least two cousin-weddings, both on my paternal side, so we'll be seeing the whole clan quite a bit.

I got the rapidly-becoming-traditional early-morning call from Dad, wishing me a happy Father's Day. He was planning on making hay while the sun shone (literally — that might be a metaphor for golfing for some people, but he actually has hay cut and looking promising in the field that needs to come in), so he called in the morning. If Oscar were his normal self, 9:30ish would have seen us up and fed, so he couldn't have known!

This week, we're saying goodbye to our voluntarily-departing colleague in my section. I don't know if she's part of workforce adjustment or not, but I hope her next stop is a good fit — it sounds like a cool job, almost cloak-and-dagger (so I won't specify what it is). I'm starting to feel like my knowledge-transfer and torch-passing work is rising to the top of the to-do list, as well — I read a pile of semi-annual reports in an attempt to catch up on what everyone is doing and decide which chiefs to try and arrange a chat with about opportunities after I return from parental leave. It does feel like a bit of a risk having told my chief that I'm moving on after leave, but I think it's time before I ossify too much. I want to keep doing linkage and disclosure control, though, maybe just on a sample survey (i.e. the ones where we call or mail stuff to respondents) rather than pure administrative data (like reportable diseases and health usage data).

I accidentally got Beck's regular the other day; it's actually not as nice as Beck's non-alcoholic: more malty and sweet, not as crisp, more like Grolsch and not terribly German-tasting, really. I'll manage to drink the pack, though: it's decent hot-weather beer.

metawidget: My full geek code.  Too long for DW alt tag, please see profile if interested. (geek)
I did my periodic language testing for my bilingual status at work this week… and I got the coveted "okay, you're bilingual, now don't come back" result (E levels across the board). Yay, one less process to keep up with! Now, any French grammar upgrading I do can be purely recreational or social.
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
Today was the day things were to get a lot clearer at my agency. Those who volunteered to go, go, and in my branch and occupation, the rest of us get to keep coming to work. It's not so good for other occupations, and I know people who volunteered with mixed feelings and are now planning their exit, but it's a lot of stress of my shoulders to know that my job is not going to be affected by Budget 2012.
metawidget: [garblegarblescript] Political! Science! for Amusement! [pictures of John A. Macdonald with swirly eyes] (science)

I made it, through the full-body scanner and a flight above the clouds, to Washington D.C. I mixed Metro (mostly) and walking (from L'Enfant Plaza across the National Mall to Chinatown, so get a sniff of the air, get a look at the monumental-ness, and grab some tasty Thai food) to get me to the University of Maryland, where I'm staying and taking a course on disclosure control. Today was the ins and outs of releasing aggregated data, which is the end of things I've worked more in. Mostly for myself: I should e-mail Dr. Cox about where methodological transparency grants the intruder extra leverage in estimating sensitive cells: his problematic findings on feasible intervals, and Dr. Karr's recent conference papers on the topic in general. I think I'm getting some good review and some connecting details that I was missing so far.

Tonight I'm probably going to drop south from Foggy Bottom into the western end of the National Mall and try to see the giant statue of Lincoln and the Vietnam Veterans' monument. Tomorrow: microdata, dynamic queries, and then the rush to the airport to get home.

metawidget: [garblegarblescript] Political! Science! for Amusement! [pictures of John A. Macdonald with swirly eyes] (science)

So, Monday after I left for work, Oscar managed to face-plant into the dresser upstairs, tooth-first. Elizabeth brought him in to our dentist office, who is just across the street from work, and a nice dentist and technician took a look at the damage and decided that the (90-degree-tilted) tooth would need pulling. I got to hold Oscar (due to slightly less flappability with respect to other people's blood than Elizabeth, i guess). After a little bit of futzing around with topical anaesthetic, the dentist went for the quick approach and plucked the tooth out with gloved fingers. Oscar was highly disconcerted for a few minutes, and I was a little woozy from watching, but by the time we'd walked a few blocks to get some air and acquire some lunch, Oscar was almost back to normal.

Here's Oscar with seven teeth, down from eight:

Oscar with a gap front tooth and fingers in his mouth

Elizabeth and I were planning on having a date night on Monday, but having had surprise dentist dealings, we decided to put it off by a few days. In the end, we left Oscar with [personal profile] random and [personal profile] fairestcat Friday night, and went into Little Italy for supper, beer and creamy desserts. Pub Italia is tasty, gloriously decorated and very busy on a Friday — we had a nice meal, some good eavesdropping and a little walk in the chilly autumn air. Some couple time was really nice. Yesterday, Elizabeth's cousin came by for supper and I fired up the Turkish grill (now safely on a pad of a few inches of gravel in a dug hole) and grilled veggie burgers in an attempt to extend summer into September. It was the first time I really got to meet her, as meeting anyone at your own wedding never counts. She seems nice and fun — she had a daughter at 18, and one thing she mentioned struck us both: her daughter will probably be out of the house by the time she's 36, and she mused about "starting again" with another kid. It's unlikely we consider having another kid when Oscar is likely launched and I'm 48.

This week, I'm off to the Washington, D.C. area for a couple of days to attend a short course on disclosure control. It'll be my first time in the U.S. since 2004. I got a fresh passport, I'm partly packed, and I'm looking forward to my more-or-less-annual work-related trip. My mission is more or less to get the big picture and soak up best practices at the course, and meet other people working in the field. I'll try and explore a little bit, too: [personal profile] fairestcat suggests wandering in the National Mall, and if some fellow guardians of respondent privacy in released data decide to see something cool in the evening, I'll probably see what they're excited about.

Even when I'm not on the road, work is pretty stimulating lately — building and disclosure vetting small-geography cancer incidence tables, welcoming new people, agitating to get the computer infrastructure set up to do record linkage better, trying to prepare to help teach a one-day course in November. Part time — the reduced time and the paperwork — is a bit stressful, but for now it gives Elizabeth a bunch of margin to work, take on new students, and have shorter days holed up with Oscar on a regular basis.

metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
It's been almost two months since I've written here, probably in part due to adding work back into my schedule. I still feel sort of freshly-back, too: summer at the office is always kind of unreal with so many people gone on vacation and most serious planning put off until the fall. This state of affairs is pretty good for the one project I'm on that hits high, sometimes-frantic production mode over the summer, though. I've been grinding out tables today from the pre-release test area to make sure nothing got damaged in transport; so far things are looking good.

With the emergence of Google+ and less time, I've been thinking a lot about which online services are the most fun and best to keep in a streamlined routine. Twitter is out for being too junk-foody for me, Google+ doesn't feel quite right (too much drag-and-drop and weird scrolling in addition to the real-name debacle), and Facebook, while still good for reaching people by name and maybe still good for inviatations (although who trusts "yes", let alone "maybe", to plan event head-counts), needs some tuning and trimming to make its good points outweigh its annoyances.

I like Dreamwidth and Livejournal more than my posting frequency would indicate, though!

Lunch break is over, and I'm back to turning the verification crank, but as I pop onto the Internet, I do think how I use it is going to evolve pretty fast in the coming months.

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metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
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