Category Archives: Family

June 27, 2007, 6:36 am

My latest use of OmniGraffle

We’re finishing up a makeover of the girls’ playroom today into what I am calling “casual contemporary schoolroom” style. And OmniGraffle came in handy for making a scale drawing of the new layout (click to enlarge):

Picture 1-10

The room is 11 by 13 feet. Once I measured the room, I just drew an 8-inch-long rectangle and set the width to be 11/13 times 8 inches wide. Then I could go and measure each object we are putting in, and manually resize its drawing to have the right proportions using one of the inspectors in OmniGraffle. Conversely, and perhaps more helpfully, I could draw new stuff in the room with the proportions I wanted, then do the math to see how big they would be in real life, which helps me in shopping for that stuff. (For example, we haven’t bought the art table, but I now know from the drawing that it would need to be about 2′ long in order to look like it does in the layout.)

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May 31, 2007, 9:56 pm

Dolphins and cameras

Here’s the highlight of my day at the zoo with the girls:

This was taken from the underwater observation deck in the dolphin exhibit. Those dolphins were literally inches away from us when they came back under water. The entire underwater area is big, consisting of three wide hallways and a large central hub, and you can see the entire dolphin habitat there. How cool is that?

Technology note — this video was shot using my Canon PowerShot A70, a still camera that’s ancient about four years old (with a once-cutting-edge 3.2 megapixels). This video wasn’t on the highest possible resolution (on that setting videos max out at 30 seconds in length) but I think the quality is pretty impressive. I think it even beats the fancy and expensive hard drive camcorder we recently bought, at least once the video is put on the web. Plus, it’s smaller, more durable, and doesn’t have crappy…

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May 23, 2007, 3:43 pm

Light blogging alert — for a good reason

Tomorrow we are taking Peanut in for the big surgery to repair her cleft lip. This procedure is about as routine as having one’s wisdom teeth taken out, and about as uncomfortable. So we’re a little apprehensive not so much about the surgery itself but the recuperation process. But we’re also very excited, because although she is adorable and developing rapidly, the surgery is essentially going to remove the obstacle she has for a “normal life” as she grows up. It’s more than just cosmetic, although that side of the issue can’t be discounted. Her speech development, her ability to eat solid foods (already prodigious), her ability to get through stuffy noses and colds — anything that you need a normally-shaped nose and two whole lips for, she will be able to do without barriers after it’s over.

I’m trying to cook up and post some articles in advance so they’ll appear automatically over …

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April 24, 2007, 9:10 pm

My new blog: Prone to Wander

Longtime readers will remember that before Casting Out Nines, I had a blog called BrightMystery which dealt not only with the kinds of topics you read about here but also issues of faith, family, marriage, and fatherhood. I eventually split BrightMystery into two blogs, one for each general topic area. But the blog I created for faith and family and so on — we called it Daddyspeak — didn’t last very long.

Recently, though, two things happened. First, I began to miss writing about faith and family. I wrote posts like this one and this one, and after doing so I realized that I felt like I had a lot of things I wanted to write in this area that don’t properly fit here at CO9s. Secondly, I discovered blogs, which are free (ala Blogger) and run a modified version of WordPress, which is what I use for this blog. My wife and I migrated our family blog from a paid site to a…

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April 17, 2007, 9:57 pm

House guests

This is slightly off-topic, but cool nonetheless: We found a surprise at our house on Sunday afternoon.
Pic 0002-1

It’s a bird’s nest — tucked away between the front door and the wreath hanging on the door. What’s more, we’ll be getting four new residents at our place soon:
Pic 0003-1

Now the trick is to avoid letting birds in the house when we open the front door.

April 5, 2007, 8:25 am

Where do helicopter parents come from?

Maybe they come from situations like this, as reported in the Nashville Tennessean:

Teaching your kids to ride a bike, shuttling them to doctor appointments, reminding them to say “Yes, ma’am,” helping with algebra homework and training them to be sensible shoppers.

These aren’t the stuff memories are made of in some families.

Instead, there are services in the Nashville area that give you the choice of outsourcing traditional parental duties.[...]

In some large cities, you can pay professionals to come into your home and coach your baby into better sleeping patterns, toilet train your toddler and pick the head lice off your little one’s scalp.[...]

At Your Service will take children grocery shopping to teach them the value of money and how to compare brands, as well as take them pet-sitting to teach responsibility, said co-owner Rose Mary Rovansek, who spent 20 years as a…

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March 30, 2007, 6:45 am

I propose sainthood for whoever thought up…

…the wiki ToyInstructions, possibly the most practical use of a wiki I have seen lately. It is a huge, user-developed database of toy assembly and game play instructions. If you’ve ever been given the wrong set of instructions for assembling a toy, or lost the rules for a game you bought five years ago, you can appreciate the value of something like this. Dads everywhere can breathe easier because of this, especially as we head into the yard sale season and toys and games are available cheap but often without instructions.

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January 28, 2007, 3:37 pm

Here’s why blogging has been light.

I’m a proud papa again! Everybody — meet Peanut.


My wife and her mother are in China right now. They received Peanut this morning (which is Sunday evening China time). Everybody is doing fine, and Doodlebug and I are anxious for the crew to get home so we can… well, I was about to say “get back to normal”, but we’ve never quite been “normal”.

An aside to tie this in to the main theme of this blog: The technology we’ve been able to use has been amazing. I am deeply impressed with the ability of technology — particularly media and communications technology — to make this trip, which is extremely stressful on the whole family, into something almost ordinary. Case in point would be the above picture. At around 2:00 AM Indiana time, my wife and mother-in-law received Peanut from the orphanage. At 3:00, pictures were taken. At 7:00, I get a call from China to our Vonage home number…

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November 23, 2006, 1:22 pm

We made it

We’re in the new house after a pretty exhausting day of moving yesterday. No major surprises or crises. About the worst thing to have happened so far is that the Mrs.’ treadmill is inexplicably not turning on; we’re hoping it’s not just hosed after six months in a storage unit, because the “lifetime warranty” on Landice models doesn’t extend to environmental damage and so forth. Also, one of our cats ran off to hide in the basement and hasn’t come out yet. But otherwise all systems are go.

We ended up having the cable modem run up into the little office/sitting room area in the master bedroom rather than my study downstairs. Tomorrow I set up the wireless. I ended up going with this Netgear router; none of the Linksys routers worked with OS X or Linux. If I turn the Airport on using the Mac mini, I can pick up six different wireless networks — and there are only three houses with…

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November 21, 2006, 7:31 am

Fair warning

Blogging’s been sporadic the last few days as we get ready for the move into the new house, and will continue to be so for the rest of the week. Tomorrow is the actual move-in day. We’re boxing up the computer tonight and the cable guy is coming I think tomorrow afternoon to get the modem hooked up. If everything works with the modem and wireless, then there won’t be that great of an interruption. That’s “if”.

We spent basically the entire weekend at the new place (painting, putting up blinds, fixing the water line to the fridge, etc.) and most of our last few weeknights. The improvement in overall quality of life in going from an 800 ft^2 apartment to a house is hard to overstate. Even just baking a pizza in an oven that doesn’t leak heat out of the rangetop was an incredibly pleasant experience.

And speaking of appliances, the microwave we bought is quite interesting. It came with a …

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