December 2017

The big thing this month was flying to the Philippines to spend time with family. A- has mostly settled in. She gets quite anxious around my dad, who’s a lot sicker than he was when we visited in September.

This month, A- figured out how to sort cans into five groups by colour, label how she was drawing, cut with a serrated knife perpendicular to the chopping board, roll and slice play dough, drop coins into a slot, and turn doorknobs (!). She was interested in stringing beads with help, picking up plastic eggshells with her toes, cutting index cards all the way through with scissors, standing astride her balance bike, and lifting bags of lentils overhead so that she could throw them down. She loved getting shopping bags from under the sink, putting cans in them, dragging them around, and putting everything away. She also loved sliding down an inclined mattress and rolling things down to hit various targets.

We discovered a nice toddler pool in a nearby community centre back in Toronto. Despite the cold, we managed to make it to an outdoor playground too.

A- regularly uses four- to seven-word sentences. She seems to have a few favorite sentence groups – snippets from books, or connected thoughts such as: upset picture; cat pajamas; no wake up all; ni bed. She can name everyone she regularly sees, and she likes labelling their actions. When I offer her choices, she uses more words to describe what she wants.

She wants to be more independent, and sometimes even asks me to wait in one place while she goes and does something. She sometimes gets upset when I eat something she’s got her eye on or if I do something for her when she wants to do it by herself, so I’m happy to let her take the lead. She imitates what we do: washing dishes, carrying a stuffed toy in her sling, putting things away, strumming the ukulele strings. She’s doing all right.

I’m learning to make the most of the tablet and phone that my dad insisted on giving me. I’m a little intimidated by the thought of dealing with Customs on the way back to Canada, but it’s the right thing to do, so I’ll just keep a spreadsheet with the gift totals.

My dad might have surgery shortly before our scheduled return, so I’m thinking of extending my stay a few weeks while W- sticks with the original itinerary. We’ve had a lot of serious conversations just in case this is the end, and we’ve also had lots of storytelling and family time.

I learned more about estate tax law in the Philippines. I’m reasonably confident that we’ll be able to sort this out, especially with the recent tax changes.

We were in the middle of dealing with a flea problem in Toronto, so it’s been nice dealing only with the occasional mosquito bite here. We’ll just have to get back to vacuuming regularly once we’re in Toronto again.

The major upgrade at work went well. I helped with a few bugfixes and problem investigations. I’m glad I brought the work laptop, although it will be an interesting challenge bringing everything back if I’m traveling by myself.

Weekly review: week ending 2017-12-29

A-‘s now pretty comfortable with my family. On various occasions, she sat on Lola’s lap, gave people fist bumps, rubbed noses, and laughed when people made funny faces. She’s still nervous about my dad, though. Maybe it’s the coughing, maybe it’s the TPN, maybe it’s something else. Anyway, that’s just something we need to deal with.

We’ve figured out lots of things she can do to keep learning. She was interested in cutting toy fruits and vegetables, and she liked playing with the cooking set that Tita Kathy gave her. She wanted us to read the books she got for Christmas (lots of Tagalog books, also from Tita Kathy) and a few other books around the house (Little Red Riding Hood, Have You Seen My Cat?).

My dad insisted on giving us new phones and clothes. I’ve been making good use of the iPad and Pencil, too – at least, whenever A- will let me use them! She liked drawing on the tablet, which made my dad happy. I also bought a new backpack since my old one was starting to fall apart. Lots of upgrades. We’re also looking forward to playing the music that Tita Ching gave A- and hanging up the solar system mobile that Lolo and Lola gave her.

Lots of estate planning this week, too. I learned more about trusts and tax laws in the Philippines and Canada, updated our spreadsheets, and went to a couple of meetings. I feel reasonably prepared.

I might extend my trip. It’s good to spend time with my family, especially if my dad goes through surgery the day before my current departure date. A- is still top priority, though, so I need to think about what we can do if W- isn’t with us and A- is anxious around my dad. We’ll figure this out.

2017-12-26 Emacs news

Links from reddit.com/r/emacs, /r/orgmode, /r/spacemacs, Hacker News, planet.emacsen.org, YouTube, the changes to the Emacs NEWS file, and emacs-devel.

Weekly review: Week ending 2017-12-22

We flew on Sunday, arriving in Manila on Tuesday night after an overnight stopover in Korea. The flights were uneventful, and jet lag wasn’t too bad.

The descriptive language I read about in books on early art education seems to have clicked. A- said “Circle!” when she drew roughly circular things, “Dot!” when she dotted the page, and “Line!” when she slowed down to draw vertical or diagonal lines. She was interested in breaking crayons, so we broke a few. I wonder if I should redirect her to something with similar feel so that we can keep crayons whole.

She also started holding the knife perpendicular to the chopping board and cutting straight down instead of at an angle. Cucumbers and strawberries were just right for her to practice cutting on her own, and she was able to cut them into tiny tidbits. Working with playdough, she rolled clumps flat with a rolling pin and sliced the pretend-pizza with a spreader.

She opened a Vector bar wrapper all by herself. W- told me that she ripped the wrapper by accident and she put the bar down. Then she realized what she could do, picked up the bar again, opened it, and started eating the bar. Clever girl!

She often says five-word sentences now, like “no mama eat fried rice.” We packed three books for the trip, and she spent five minutes asking for the board book version of Pride and Prejudice before we fetched it from the overhead bin. She’s still scared of dolls and doesn’t like them even talked about.

She’s slowly getting reacquainted with my family, although stranger anxiety still sometimes gets in the way. She warmed up enough to take one of her cousins by the hand, play with her giraffe toy, and ask for that cousin by name. She also offered her sheep toy to Lola, and she accepted blueberries from Lola too. Lolo’s still waiting for his moment, though.

My sisters and I met with our dad’s doctor, and that conversation was very helpful.

One potty accident this week, although it was probably because she was hungry and distracted due to cooking. No worries!

Sorting Org Mode lists using a sequence of regular expressions

I manually categorize Emacs News links into an Org unordered list, and then I reorganize the list by using M-S-up (org-shiftmetaup) and M-S-down (org-shiftmetadown). I decide to combine or split categories depending on the number of links. I have a pretty consistent order. John Wiegley suggested promoting Emacs Lisp and Emacs development links at the top of the list. I like to sort the rest of the list roughly by interest: general links first, then Org, then coding, then other links at the bottom.

Here’s some code that sorts Org lists in a custom sequence, with unknown items at the bottom for easy re-ordering. It will take a list like:

- Other:
  - Link A
  - Link B
- Emacs development:
  - Link A
  - Link B
- Emacs Lisp:
  - Link A
  - Link B

and turn it into:

- Emacs Lisp:
  - Link A
  - Link B
- Emacs development:
  - Link A
  - Link B
- Other:
  - Link A
  - Link B
(defun my/org-sort-list-in-custom-order (order)
  "Sort the current Org list so that items are in the specified order.
ORDER is a list of regexps."
  (org-sort-list
   nil ?f
   (lambda ()
     (let ((case-fold-search t)
           (item
            (when (looking-at "[ \t]*[-+*0-9.)]+\\([ \t]+\\[[- X]\\]\\)?[ \t]+")
              (org-sort-remove-invisible (buffer-substring (match-end 0) (point-at-eol))))))
       (or (cl-position item order :test (lambda (a b) (string-match b a))) (1+ (length order)))))
   '<))

(defun my/emacs-news-sort-list ()
  (interactive)
  (my/org-sort-list-in-custom-order
   '("Emacs Lisp"
     "Emacs development"
     "Appearance"
     "Navigation"
     "Dired"
     "Org Mode"
     "Coding"
     "Calc"
     "Email and news"
     "Other"
     "Discussion"
     "Outside Emacs"
     "New packages?")))

One more little thing automated… The next thing would probably be to write some code that autocategorizes links based on an alist of (item . regexp) pairs, which would also reduce the need to re-sort the items afterwards. Still, this is good for dealing with manual categorization. =)

2017-12-19 Emacs news

Links from reddit.com/r/emacs, /r/orgmode, /r/spacemacs, Hacker News, planet.emacsen.org, YouTube, the changes to the Emacs NEWS file, and emacs-devel.