Watching Li read on the couch: it seems to include some personal form of yoga or tai chi as she goes from prone on her stomach to standing (yes, standing) to squatting to sitting to lying on her back, then to the floor with her feet on the couch and back to sitting on the couch over the course of about 5 minutes… and all of those transitions occurring smoothly and slowly with the book open and held in both hands, and without any apparent interruption of the reading.

I wonder if she is aware of her movement.

A New Year Begins

A bit of a catch-up post for the start of the new year: Christmas, Li, Deb, Ian, a bit of reading, and some geek stuff.

It has been a bit since I last wrote anything here, I realize, but I will try to get caught up on a variety of fronts with sort of a catch-all post here…

Christmas and Li

Li and the Christmas tree (12/2009)
Li and the Christmas tree (12/2009)

We survived Christmas, with the combination of the holidays and an extended break from work (for me) and school (for Ian) being something of a mixed bag. My workplace shuts down (officially) between Christmas and New Year’s Day for a holiday curtailment, so I took all of the week ahead of Christmas (mostly) off as I had some banked comp hours I needed to use ahead of the end of the year (or lose them) and I’m taking a couple more days after New Year’s, as well, which will stretch my holiday break to almost three weeks. Ian has had the past week and a half off from school, too, so we’ve all been home together for the first time in a long time — which has been wonderful.

Li was definitely “in” to Christmas this year, and loved having three Christmases: ours as a family on Christmas Day, followed by two more as both sets of grandparents came to stay with us for a couple days each. We had decided, after traveling with her for Ian’s state soccer tournament in October, that travel just wasn’t in the cards for us at this point and in retrospect staying home with her (and having visitors here) was the right move.

We tried to keep as much of a routine through the holidays for Li as possible, but we still ended up with some sleep struggles beginning the Friday before Christmas. Lots of rest-less nights, particularly ahead of Christmas itself, and several days with no naps… which were trying and exhausting for all of us to varying degrees. Just in the past couple of days, it seems — based on sleep patterns — that she is working her way out this latest cycle.

Li participating in her first Christmas program at church
Li "participating" in her first Christmas program at church (12/2009)

Aside from the sleep problems, Li is doing great. She continues to grow and develop in leaps and bounds. When it comes to food, her palette is continuing to expand (her new favorite is “pork chop” — pork tenderloin, in actuality, which she tried for Christmas dinner when I grilled a couple) and she’s more willing to try new things. She “participated” in her first Christmas program at church this year, where “participated” would be defined as learning “Away in a Manger” and then standing stoically at the front of the sanctuary with the other kids while they sang. It’s about what we had expected; when we asked if she was going to sing, she responded “No, I already sang that song.” She’s close to reading at this point, and her sense of humor is pretty amazing for a not-yet three year old. We took her sledding for the first time yesterday and she loved it, even being willing to go down the hill by herself.

Deb and Ian

Ian and his adoring little sister
Ian and his adoring little sister, both in tye-die splendor (12/2009)

Ian has a bad case of “end of break blues” right now, but other than that is doing well. He found out in early December that he and a couple of other interns from his summer job won the high school division of  an international digital forensics competition sponsored by the DoD and will be traveling to St. Louis for a related conference in late January (we’re still trying to figure out how this will work). He’s in the midst of the college application process (continually being prodded slowly forward by Deb) but hasn’t yet decided where he will attend. He’s squeezing in a bit of soccer (indoor) when he can and generally suffering through his senior year of high school.

Deb also has been playing a bit of soccer (also indoor), playing in a women’s league and on a team that competed in a Christmas break tournament which was definitely a change of pace for all of us. The highlight of their tournament was playing the eventual tournament winners 3-2 (Deb’s team lost) with the winning goal being scored in the last minute of the match; not bad for a team with 3 players over 50 against a bunch of college-aged players. She has also been attending a weekly Bible study (one that provides childcare for Li during the class), which is a good change of pace for her in a couple of ways.

A Bit of Reading

Over the break, I managed to squeeze in a bit of reading, too. I finished “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy (a gift from Santa’s bibliophilic elf — a tradition at our house) and “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer, sandwiched around a bit fluff (“Thunderhead” by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child). To Thunderhead’s fluff, “The Road” is flint: beautifully and sparely written, gripping, haunting, disturbing. It’s a movie I won’t see; the book is extraordinary and more troubling than anything I’ve read in a while. It’s the first of his works that I have read, but almost certainly will not be the last. “Into Thin Air” was a gift from Ian; engaging, fairly well-written, tragic.

Some Geek Stuff

I’m in the middle of a couple of projects on the geek front these days, too, in the odd moments of spare time I can squeeze out: working on getting a lightweight CFML and database server environment up and running on my netbook (based on Railo and Apache Derby, respectively) and also working on a CFML mode for ActiveState’s excellent Komodo editor. I will write a bit more on both of those at some point in the near future. I also did a bit of troubleshooting on another project (a cross-platform editor called “redcar” intended to be semi-compatible with TextMate but capable of running on Mac, Linux, and that other OS) and got to play a bit with Ruby in the process.

Those of you with reasonably modern semi-standards-compliant browsers (read: not MSIE) will notice a bit of geekery in the handling of the pix on this particular post. I’ve tweaked the styling for my blog here based on some CSS stuff I was playing with ahead of Christmas. Those of you still clinging to MSIE should consider an alternative…

Soccer is done; life returns…

Our spring soccer season wrapped up over Memorial Day weekend and it feels like life is slowly returning to normal.

Our spring soccer season wrapped up this past week with the State Cup tournament in Pocatello over Memorial Day weekend and with our end of the season party on a weekday evening. Life feels like it is slowly returning to normal, and as is usually the case by the end of the season, it is with a mixture of sadness and relief that I view this passing.

Our friend John got some really good pix of both Li from the windswept steppes of the soccer pitches in eastern Idaho this spring — we had almost uniformly lousy weather for the season until the final couple of weeks — and of Ian playing. I’ll post a few of those in the next few days as I begin to get caught up on stuff around here.

It has been nice to have evenings back, so that I get a little more time with family and dinner has seen a welcome return to our schedule. Ian and I spent some time yesterday working on stuff in the garage — long overdue, in a couple cases — and we’re enjoying a weekend with Deb’s folks visiting, playing a bit of pinochle with them, and watching them get reacquainted with Li.

I’ve been doing a little reading, working on and almost done with Neal Stephenson’s “Snow Crash”, and just starting “Getting Things Done” (for obvious reasons). I did manage to squeeze in a couple of other books over the season but aside from Alex Garland’s “The Tesseract”, none struck me as extraordinary.

On the subject of “Getting Things Done”, if you’re a follower of GTD or have tried it and found it didn’t help, I’d like to hear from you; post a comment… I’m curious to hear your opinions and experiences with it. I’m just starting to factor some of its ideas into how I try to keep track of everything I’m supposed to be doing…

William Gibson’s “Spook Country”

I saw William Gibson’s “Spook Country” in an airport bookstore and couldn’t resist.

I saw William Gibson’s “Spook Country” in an airport bookstore on my recent trip to Dallas (notes to self: let’s skip Dallas in late June in the future, and sushi in Dallas just seems like a bad idea on second thought) and couldn’t resist. Let me qualify this a little by saying I don’t read much science fiction, but I’ve always like Gibson’s writing and I’m not even sure I’d really bin him as SF in the first place. In short, this is a great read, and just what I needed this summer: darkly funny, insightful, very engaging, a little edgy, and some food for thought about how blurry the lines can get.

Makes me want to go find my copy of “Count Zero” and start re-reading some of his earlier work…

Recent Reading

I haven’t really kept up on this, but I actually have been reading quite a bit lately.

I haven’t really kept up on posting anything about what’s on my reading stack, but I actually have been reading quite a bit lately. Part of it is a release from the stress of work (and specifically, the stress of trying to make sure that when I disappear to go to China in the immediate future that I don’t leave a mess of unfinished major tasks for Jeff) and part of it is to keep from going crazy as we wait…

I’m currently in the middle of two books: Barça: A People’s Passion by Jimmy Burns (an unexpected Christmas gift from Chuck) and The Man Who Ate Everything by Jeffrey Steingarten (loaned to me by Mark). Steingarten is hilarious, and I knew I was in for a treat when he opens the book by touching on his food aversions and how he (mostly) got past them — those aversions include some of my favorites: Greek food, anchovies, Indian desserts, and clams. Right now, however, Steingarten is playing second fiddle to Burns. Barça is rich in the history of one of the great football clubs in the world, a club with a unique history interwoven with the politics of Spain and a club whose history is populated with some of the greatest players in the history of the game. The book is about much more than just the sporting side of the club, and has been a real eye-opener. Understanding the history of the club within the 20th century history of Spain and Catalonia puts a completely different stamp on the nature of the rivalry between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. I am within 25 pages of the end of the book and, although it has not necessarily been an easy read, it has been both worthwhile and very enjoyable in terms of both the history and the football.

Over Christmas, I also read The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig (probably my favorite contemporary writer) and Playing for Pizza by John Grisham. Pizza is fluff but enjoyable; sort of the the futbol Americano version of Joe McGinness’ The Miracle of Castel di Sangro but not as filling and without the twist at the end. The Whistling Season did not disappoint at all; it had been a couple of years since I last read anything by Doig, so this was a real treat. Vintage Doig, but with a touch more humor (or perhaps the humor is closer to the surface?); I don’t remember laughing out loud with Doig in the past, but I did in several passages here. The book follows a pair of threads separated in time by 40-ish years in the life of a young man in western Montana and more than just touches on the ways in which school and teachers can influence life. Definitely worth reading, and if you aren’t yet a fan of Doig, this one would serve as a great introduction to an extraordinary Western US writer.