September 2004

Reply from Mom

September 2, 2004 - Categories: -Uncategorized

For your info, the two Perla bars are real laundry SOAP –
not detergent. They would be less convenient to use- they don’t sud as
quickly – but they would be gentler on your clothes and your hands,
and on the environment as well. There was a time when Kathy was in
grade school when she campaigned against detergent – in powder or bar
form – so we switched back to Perla. Our labandera was not too happy
but maybe our rivers and seas were – if they could only speak.

Hey, cool. I guess that means I have to figure out where I left that
bar of soap. I think I left it in the laundry room by mistake. Chances
are it will still be there. I have another bar of soap, though. I also
need to figure out how to make sure what I’m using doesn’t have
bleach, as I anticipate having to buy laundry soap one of these

Haven’t even dipped into the money my parents have set aside, so I
guess I’m still okay. =)


September 9, 2004 - Categories: -Uncategorized

I watched the old man examine the onions carefully. It was my first
week on the job and I couldn’t help but notice that every afternoon
the old man came to buy half a dozen onions.

Today was no different. There the old man was, hefting the onions,
examining them for defects. After choosing six plump onions, he would
ask me to dice them and put them in a plastic bag. I always cried. Our
manager told us to humor an old man’s whimsy, but didn’t explain

It was a slow Tuesday afternoon, and my curiosity got the better of me
as I chopped the onions. “Excuse me, sir, but I’ve been wondering

He looked around. Seeing no one else in the store, he turned to me.
“Why I buy so many onions?”

I pulled a chair close and gestured. He settled into it, turning the
uncut onions over and over in his hands. “My wife… She loved onion
soup. We must’ve fought about it for thirty, forty years, but she
always won. Who wants to eat onion soup every day? Her hands always
smelled like onions, too.”

“But now… I don’t know how to make onion soup. I wish I could. I
miss her.”

With that, the old man gathered up the onions and left, tears
streaming down his cheeks.

(in reply to flashxer prompt 2004.09.03: Love)


September 14, 2004 - Categories: -Uncategorized

“Glad you could make it on such short notice. Babysitters are hard to
get on a Friday night, particularly those with references as good as

“Don’t worry about me. I love children. In fact, I brought a treat
for—Benjamin, right? A cookie now, and—if you behave—another cookie
later. How does that sound?” The girl produced a jar and offered it to
the child, who shook his head and hid behind his father. The
babysitter laughed and set the jar down on a small desk. “Isn’t he
such a dear?”

“Ooh, is that chocolate? Benj, if you don’t want any…”

“Now, now, John, no snacks before dinner. Kathy, just two cookies,
okay? Please make sure he eats dinner. I’ve left something in the ref.
Before I forget, here’s the advance you asked for. Good night,
Benjamin, Kathy! See you at 10.”

Then they were gone.

His stomach rumbled. He put down the truck and waddled over to the
dining room. No dinner in sight. He could ask the babysitter, but
that’d probably mean having to eat boring vegetables.

He caught a whiff coming from near the front door. Cookies! Cookies
would be perfect for dinner. He peeked behind him. She was still on
the sofa, staring at those gross shows with lots of face-sucking.
Removing his squeaky shoes, he tiptoed through the living room and
climbed onto a chair, carefully wrapping his small fingers around the
jar. Easing the flip-top lid open, he reached in, grabbed his prize,
and crammed it into his mouth.

It wasn’t quite chocolate. He didn’t know what it was. But it
tasted… nice. He wanted another one. And another. And –

“You like the cookies?” The baby sitter smiled at him.

Cookie-laden hands froze half-way to a crumby mouth.

“I love cookies. You can help me make some. Your kitchen has an oven,
right? Let’s go. Bring the jar with you.”

He found himself taking a step, and another, and another. He couldn’t
take his eyes off her, staring, horribly fascinated as she dipped a
hand into the jar and snared a cookie.

“I do so love children,” she sighed, and bit into it.

A note greeted his parents when they came home.

“Benjamin was absolutely wonderful. Thanks.”

(in response to flashxer prompt “Splintered”)

Sean’s started blogging!

September 21, 2004 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Disclaimer: September 2004
Still learning how to work this thing.

Don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it.

I still think I publish mainly for myself. It’s a way of forcing
myself to write. I post trivia I find in my mail, things I need to
remember. I haven’t been blogging that way lately, though. I guess
it’s because the things I want to write about aren’t passing through
my computer, aren’t generated by some other person.

This is new for me. It takes some getting used to. Then again, it
isn’t that new. My teaching reflections were also personal content.

People want to know what’s going on in my life, or at least I think
so. ;) I _could_ let my messages disappear into spam-tangled
mailboxes, but I’d rather not. Besides, this way, people can catch up
with several days of reading guilt-free. E-mail… e-mail is push.
Blogging is pull.


September 21, 2004 - Categories: -Uncategorized
Version: GnuPG v1.2.5 (GNU/Linux)



September 24, 2004 - Categories: emacs

Long list of checked-off TODO items. Planner is good for the heart.

Today I bought four more spools of yarn, anticipating a very long
bus ride this Sunday.


September 27, 2004 - Categories: -Uncategorized

The carabao grunted to a halt unceremoniously. I felt Maria wake up.
Steadying her, I jumped off the broad back and tugged the carabao’s

“We have to get Maria home. C’mon, lazybones…”

The carabao shook its head.

“Please, Ambo?” I waved some grass in front of it enticingly.

The carabao snorted and closed its eyes.

“Oh, man, don’t go to sleep now!” I scratched my head and sheepishly
grinned at Maria. “I can walk you home, if you want. I’ll just come
back for Ambo.”

“It’s… it’s okay. My home is still far from here, and there’s plenty
of time. Maybe he just needs to take a short nap.”

“Yeah. I’ll try waking him up in a while. For now…”

“Shhh. The afternoon sun is beautiful.”

I smiled and sidled closer to her, throwing a wink at the carabao.
Who says old carabaos can’t learn new tricks?

(in response to flashxer prompt: Stalled)

How to be a programmer

September 28, 2004 - Categories: -Uncategorized


September 28, 2004 - Categories: -Uncategorized

“I’ll love you forever.” He pressed her fingers to his tear-stained

She pulled her hands away. “No more promises. That way, you can’t
break them.” She left without looking back.

Two years later, he saw her obituary in the newspaper. Only the moon
knows the vow he made, the first since they parted. To see her one
last time, perhaps? He never made it, dying in the flood that rose
that night.

They say you can sometimes still see him struggling through the mists,
bound by his last promise.

(Reply to flashxer prompt: “Trust you? Trust you? Of course I don’t
trust you. Once again you made me a promise you just can’t keep.”)

Letter for Marcelle

September 29, 2004 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Happy birthday, Marcell!

I’ll unencrypt this if the postcard gets lost.

Version: GnuPG v1.2.5 (GNU/Linux)


Mysterious font-locking problems

September 29, 2004 - Categories: -Uncategorized

It appears that newly-opened files don’t have buffer-file-names until
they’re saved. I may have to do something fancy.


September 29, 2004 - Categories: emacs

Now there’s a useful Emacs function. I might be able to use that for

Long live open source

September 30, 2004 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Just got two e-mailed patches to tla2darcs, a tool I wrote a few
months ago (but have since then forgotten). =) I love open source.