2019-06-24 Emacs news

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

2019-06-17 Emacs news

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

Babysitting experiment so far: pretty great, and working on making it even better

We’ve had twenty babysitting sessions so far. We started weekly experiments in May 2018, when A- was a little over two years old. She asked me to stop after eight sessions, since she wanted to play with me instead. We resumed in April 2019 because A- wanted to give it another try. I wanted to quickly reflect on how that experiment has been going and think about how we can build on it.

What have we been doing?

We scaled up from 4 hours a session to 7 hours a session. This works really well for me because it gives me one or two chunks of focused time long enough to dig into and solve reasonable problems. It probably works out even better than a half-day preschool program, since transitions chew up so much time.

I increased it to 2 sessions during the week because we might be away for a trip, so I wanted to front-load some consulting and personal time.

We started booking Saturday sessions as well so that W- and I can work on house projects together. I think it’s worth investing the time and money in developing my DIY skills, and I want A- to grow up seeing us do that kind of stuff.

What have I learned from having all these different babysitters?

A- gets along well with lots of different people. She switches over to focusing on the new babysitter within a few minutes, and she seems comfortable heading out to the park with them even if it’s just the first time they’ve met. She’s good at communicating what she wants and can be easily understood. She generally likes to take the lead, but she’s willing to accept suggestions and reminders.

There’s one babysitter that A- loves, a few she’s okay with, and a few she’s less keen on. A- seems to respond well to energy and engagement. Even when A- and the babysitter don’t click as well, I learn something from what I think might be missing. It inspires me to be more engaged, too. It’s great having such a variety of people. It’s like being able to experiment with different parenting styles and personalities while keeping A- constant.

A- likes the crafts and games they suggest, and often asks to repeat them. The babysitters often introduce things I wouldn’t have thought of trying with A- just yet, so I’m pleasantly surprised by her capabilities. They’ve made it out to playgrounds a few times, although A- often prefers to stay close to home.

A- really likes helping me pay for the babysitter, too. She’s learning to recognize different numbers and bills. Hmm… If the sitters don’t mind, I might switch to paying mostly in 10s so that she can get used to hearing that sequence of numbers. I talk to her about withdrawing cash from my savings, how I earn that money by working, and how the babysitters earn their money by working too. We even talk about receipts and taxes in the process.

What did I do with the time?

  • Consulting: 25.5 hours, or a little less than 50% of the hours since we resumed the experiment in April. Lots of SQL and Javascript. Working during the daytime is much, much nicer than staying up late. I make faster progress and feel happier, and I can talk to my clients as needed. Also, if I remember to go to bed early, I have more energy when I’m with A-.
  • Coding: I worked on a bunch of little tweaks for Emacs and my phone so that I can update Emacs News and my journal more easily. I also organized my files, updated my blog, and did lots of little kaizen projects.
  • House stuff: I painted the cabinets, and I’m looking forward to doing more house things.
  • Organization: I tidied up my basement workspace and organized my files.
  • Errands: I took two hours to go to the Philippine consulate. It was nice not worrying about whether A- would get bored or need to go to the bathroom.
  • What didn’t I do? Drawing, sewing, batch-cooking, and self-care still felt lower-priority than other things I could do with that time. Writing is pretty sporadic too, although I turned a few Emacs tweaks into blog posts.
  • ECE: I’ve only done a little bit of early childhood education reading and preparation. I could spend more time and energy doing this, since enriching our days together will likely pay off more than incremental tweaks to my computer or phone setup.

What concerned me before?

How would the sitters interact with A-? I see a lot of parents and caregivers focused on their phones or other adults while their kids play fairly independently, and I can be like that too unless I make an effort. So far, most of the babysitters we’ve gotten have seemed pretty engaging, though. Seeing them in action helps me appreciate the kind of play skills I want to develop myself. At some point, A- will be more interested in playing by herself or with other kids. At the moment, though, she wants lots of interaction, and it’s amazing what she can learn with someone’s help and appreciation. I think my ideal at the moment is for A- to have a supportive and appreciative play partner who expands her vocabulary and understanding, occasionally asks questions or suggests things that challenge her, and sometimes models new techniques. It’s hard to do that sort of stuff, so I’m glad I can pay for role models.

I want to learn more from how sitters interact with A- without disrupting them. I can hear them from the basement, and I come up for snacks and for transition time. (Then A- says, “Why did Mama come up?”, in a “I’m fine, I want to keep playing with the babysitter, Mama go back downstairs” sort of way.) Hmm… If the babysitter’s okay with it and if it doesn’t mess with my concentration too much, maybe I can listen on the baby monitor when I’m working on personal projects.

Less awareness of A-‘s interests and growing skills? As it turned out, I didn’t need to worry about this at all. When A- is interested in something, that interest runs through everything she does. I still feel in tune with what she’s curious about and what she’s working on.

Less exposure to household stuff? Not an issue at the moment. A-‘s still involved in getting groceries, cooking, cleaning, and other things we do around the house. I’d like to eventually involve her more in DIY, but that can wait until I have more skills and she has more self-control.

What’s the next step?

More time? A- often tells me that 7 hours is too short. She wants to try 8 hours, which means we need to:

  • get ready earlier in the day
  • do chores early afternoon so that we can have dinner and do bedtime soon after the sitter leaves
  • help her get the hang of either going out, playing, and napping in the stroller, or resting during quiet time.

Eight hours might make it easier to get an occasional babysitter outside the agency, if we decide to go that route. Summer is coming up, and it might be awesome to snag a teacher or early childhood educator on a summer break.

Do we want to consider a regular babysitter or daycare? I actually like the variety that comes from having different babysitters, and we don’t offer enough hours or commitment for someone else to commit to us for a longer term anyway. At the moment, A- is more interested in playing with a grown-up or by herself than with other kids. I’ll expose her to more group situations later on, but in the meantime, I think it’s worth having someone focus on her, help her answer her questions, read her tons of books, and so on.

How can I build on what A- does? Babysitters often come with one or two ideas and we have a lot of open-ended supplies, so they’re already doing pretty well. The table I made is a little too text-heavy for them to quickly glance at, but quick verbal instructions and one activity pouch might work. I can rely on their experience to figure out what level A- is at and come up with an appropriate challenge or spin. In fact, they generally do a better job at this than I do, so the less I get in their way, the better.

A- freely shares what she’s interested in (“I’m a firefighter!”), so I don’t need to brief them on that, since a good babysitter will pick up A-‘s cues and incorporate them into activity suggestions. I have plenty of days with A- for following up on those interests anyway. (We’ve been to the fire station four times in a little over a week…)

It might be interesting to build on techniques, which I can pick up by asking about crafts and displaying her work. For example, A- has been very interested in painting and then folding the paper or placing another piece of paper on top, and she repeated that technique with other sitters and with me. If I annotate her art with the date (and possibly sitter name), that also helps me cross-reference it with the babysitter when asking A- about her babysitter preferences.

Another level would be to build on concepts. If I systematically go through something like Playing Preschool, that might help me spot opportunities to sneak more learning into stuff A- wants to do. She can generally fill the whole day with things she wants to do, but she’s curious about new things in her environment, so that’s how I might be able to provoke her curiosity. I can work on getting the hang of this myself before figuring out how to get the babysitters on board with it too, since they’re already doing a great job of exposing A- to different kinds of activities. I don’t want too much structure, anyway – just a little to support more discovery and thought.

There’s something pretty interesting about this setup, and we’re very lucky to be able to do stuff like this. I’m curious about how to make the most of it.

2019-06-10 Emacs news

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

Weekly review: Week ending June 7, 2019

  • Kaizen
    • I emptied my gardening toolbox. Maybe I can repurpose it for educational supplies.
    • I did a tiny bit of exercise at the playground while waiting for A-.
    • I coded a couple of Emacs tweaks for easier phone use: synchronized configuration files, Org capture templates, and bouncing an item between my Org file and my inbox so that it’s easier to edit in Orgzly.
    • The babysitter thought the activity list was very helpful, and was able to use it to guide A-‘s learning while also letting A- take the lead.
    • I tidied up my basement workspace. It feels quite a bit nicer now.
    • I made a Tasker task to update Memento Database journal entries with new text and categories. I used am broadcast to trigger it from the command line on my phone, and then wrote an Emacs Lisp function so that I could call it from my phone or my laptop (via ssh). That might make updating my journal even easier!
    • I parsed my activity ideas for A- and made a table I could print out easily, with space for notes.
  • Us
    • I bent the hole punch trying to use it on felt, so W- tried to fix it.
    • I passed some things on to Joy in case they help with toddler bedwetting.
    • I had to boot to Windows to open the Ontario photo card form, which was a bit annoying.
    • We watched the first episode of Good Omens.
    • We finished the first playthrough of Borderlands 1.
    • I bought the Borderlands 2 Handsome Collection on Steam so that I could do some PC gaming with W-. We’ve played it a lot on PS3, but this might give us a little more of a runway before we upgrade to a PS4.
  • Fine motor
    • A- liked the nature class activities, like using a clothespin to pick up pretend worms.
    • A- practised making playdough roses.
  • Sensory
    • A- asked me to help her swing higher and faster on the big kids swing.
    • At the playground, A- was interested in filtering sand using the small sand toys as well as the big table.
    • I bought small alphabet beads just in case A- wanted to practise beading and spelling. She pretended they were sungka shells, and she also put them in a small container and turned them into a rattle.
    • Instead of going to the splash pad, A- wanted to stay home and play with water in the backyard. She extended the awning, then spent some time filling containers with water and transferring water between them. It worked out pretty nicely, actually, since she could play in the shade and she had a lot more control over the water.
  • Language
    • “I’m trying different ways. Let me explore.”
    • “Once upon a time, there was a girl named A- who loved chamfering.”
    • “Sorry, what did you say?”
    • A- telling W- how to make taho: “First you start with a tall glass. Let me show you. Dear Nannies on Call…” (Whenever A- gets interested in something a little obscure, W- and I like to joke about asking the babysitter agency to send us someone with specific qualifications – materials science, Latin, etc.)
    • A- got the hang of the “No, you verb.” So we tried tossing different words at her. She successfully said, “No, you prevaricate,” and “No, you abdicate,” but fizzled out when I tried to get her to say antidisestablishmentarianism.
    • A- told a story that started, “Once there was a little boy named Dad who loved lava lamps.”
  • Art
    • A- learned a little about masking as an art technique.
  • Self-care and independence
    • A-: “1. Floss your teeth. 2. Brush your teeth. 3. Rinse and spit. 4. Go to sleep. 5. Snuggle in your sleep sack.” W-: “6. Sleep by yourself?” A-: <shakes head no>
    • A- practised closing her food containers and putting them into her snack bag. She was even able to close the round ones.
    • The presenter at the parenting workshop encouraged us to use grown-up toothpaste for kids who can rinse and spit instead of letting them get used to the sweet taste of kids’ toothpaste. She also said that Toronto water is fluoridated enough that brushing with tap water is enough for kids younger than three, and to check with the dentist to see if they need more fluoride. A- prefers the mildness of the fluoridated bubblemint toothpaste she has over the Arm & Hammer sensitive one we use. I might try other brands to see if we can find a mild one.
  • Eating
    • Since A- was curious about Filipino snacks, I volunteered to make her some taho. I explained that we needed tofu and tapioca pearls. She latched on to the idea of tapioca pearls, said she loved them, and wanted to go buy them right away.
    • A- asked us to make taho, although I think she was just into it for the tapioca pearls and the maple syrup that we substitute for arnibal.
  • Household
    • A- watered the grass.
  • Social
    • We went to AW’s party. There were more than a handful of other kids close to their age. A- liked taking turns knocking down bowling pins with balls. She also turned the small hoops into hula hoops, chased and blew bubbles, and asked me to read books many times.
    • A- practised introducing ourselves. “I’m A-, and this is my mother, Sacha.”
    • I stirred the sand in the funnel so that it wouldn’t get stuck. A- told me, “Get out of my space.” Yay setting boundaries!
    • At the parenting workshop, A- patiently let the facilitator demonstrate different ways of helping a baby with gas.
  • Pretend
    • “Where am I going with S-? Can I go to outer space?”
  • Cognition
    • I used paint swatches to make a simple colour game for A-, but she was more interested in scattering the cards.
    • A- was concerned about the skin peeling off the soles of her feet. We told her that the more she walks and runs, the stronger and tougher her feet get. She ran to the other room and back, then sat down eagerly to check her feet.
    • A- asked to open the bag of balls that we bought. I was mystified and had to retrace our steps out loud before I remembered we bought a bag of tapioca. She’s got a good memory!
    • A- recognized $5 and $10 while looking at paper money, and I started teaching her about $50.
    • I drew shapes with chalk, and A- identified them.
    • A- worked on solving the jigsaw puzzle. We took turns sorting the pieces based on whether or not they had straight edges. She solved the outside with a little help, and then solved the inside almost all by herself.
    • A- wanted both of us to apply the temporary tattoos from the fire station. She helped me count to thirty each time.
  • World
    • After the party, A- asked to go to the Filipino variety store I had mentioned on the way. She said she was curious about the Philippines.
    • I walked all the way to Walmart to buy a lava lamp, since A- had been curious about lava lamps for the past few days. We all found it pretty interesting to look at, and it gave us an excuse to talk about how it works.
    • There was a lot of litter at the playground, so I used the plastic bag and tongs I’d brought to clean things up a little. A- helped me pick up garbage and throw things into the bin. It was good tongs practice for her, and great for turning something that would have annoyed me into something I felt good about helping A- learn.
    • A- watched the wax rise and fall in the lava lamp. Then she spooned up some yogurt and let it fall into her bowl.
    • A-‘s bedtime conversation mostly focused on how she’s mama’s first and daddy’s second kiddo. She seemed tickled pink by that.
    • We passed by the fire station on the way to another errand. A- was curious about the fire trucks, so I crouched beside the stroller and explained things to her. A firefighter came out and invited us in for a tour. A- asked a couple of questions, and she got stickers, colouring sheets, temporary tattoos, and a fire safety activity booklet. Fun!
  • Other
    • We donated many 2T and 3T clothes through a clothing swap, with the extras going to the New Mom Project. All the other clothes and toys were for smaller kids, so we didn’t end up with stuff for A-, but many families were happy to take A-‘s hand-me-downs.
    • A- patiently waited as we went on lots of errands. We bought a paint roller, tapioca pearls, the next size up of underwear, lactase pills, and sunscreen. Then we went to the park and had lots of fun.
    • I chatted with Melissa about school readiness and I shared the comprehensive checklist I found at https://www.aft.org/sites/default/files/t2k_schoolreadiness.pdf .

Blog posts


Category The other week % Last week % Diff % h/wk Diff h/wk
Unpaid work 3.3 13.1 9.8 22.1 16.5
Business 0.3 1.8 1.5 3.0 2.6
Discretionary – Play 5.6 6.6 1.0 11.1 1.7
Discretionary – Social 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Personal 5.4 5.4 -0.0 9.0 -0.0
A- 40.9 39.1 -1.7 65.7 -2.9
Discretionary – Productive 6.2 3.6 -2.6 6.0 -4.3
Discretionary – Family 3.9 0.1 -3.8 0.1 -6.4
Sleep 34.5 30.3 -4.2 51.0 -7.0

Weekly review: Week ending May 31, 2019

  • Kaizen
    • I set up extra key shortcuts for Termux.
    • I tried out Termux Widget and Termux Task. I had a problem with bad interpreters with Termux Task, but I fixed it by running the tool to fix the shebang of the script called by my task.
    • I wrote a simple Tasker script to add a task to my Orgzly inbox.
    • I set up Termux so that I could SSH into my phone.
    • Note to self: don’t cancel all the cards until I check which ones I’ve actually left at home. There’s a pause feature for a reason!
    • I updated the Org Mode TOC target patch.
    • I started copying my Emacs configuration onto my phone.
    • I made a numeric hydra so that I can more easily categorize Emacs News.
    • I organized my notes, filling in some missing weekly reviews and archiving lots of other random snippets.
    • I wrote a script to help me rewrite Flickr URLs to sketches.sachachua.com ones.
    • I cleared my WordPress blog drafts.
  • Us
    • I had put the sourdough in the fridge because I didn’t have time on Sunday to bake it. The loaf I ended up making turned out a bit dense and quite sour. It was still yummy, but I’ll try the recipe again without the unintentional delay.
    • I called various banks to request replacements for my lost cards, and I called OHIP to request a replacement for A-‘s card.
    • I dashed to the library while W- helped A- eat dinner. Made it just in time!
  • Gross motor
    • A- made a game of climbing up on my shoulders and swinging down in front of me.
    • A- worked hard on climbing the corkscrew ladder and sliding down the steep, twisty slide. She even showed a couple of older kids how to do it.
    • A- practised coasting on her balance bike.
  • Fine motor
    • A- was interested in sewing, so I got her some brown felt, brown yarn, a punch, and a few extra yarn needles.
    • A- asked me to draw triangles. She carefully cut them out with scissors, following the line closely.
    • We visited Popo in between ocularist appointments. A- practised using the scissors to cut out shapes and thin strips. She was also curious about using multiple crayons to draw.
    • A- continued to be interested in sewing. I’m not sure where the yellow yarn needle went, so it’s good that I picked up a few extra blue ones at the store.
  • Sensory
    • A- had the foresight to take her shirt off before playing with the fountains at Grange Park, but her pants got pretty wet. She put her shirt back on and played in the playground while we waited for her pants to dry in the sun.
  • Language
    • “I’m a big kid. Look how fast I’m growing up.”
    • W-: “Shall I use the electric toothbrush to brush your teeth?” A-: “Manual. I have one day on, one day off.”
    • W- asked A- if she wanted B- to babysit her, and she said no. W- asked her if she wanted J- to babysit her. She said, “I want J- to bigsister me.”
    • “I want you to listen to what I’m saying.”
    • “I want to dispense some cash. I want my own cash so that I can pay the babysitter.”
    • W- observed that A- probably loved S- as a babysitter because she really engaged with A-, while B- tended to hang a little bit back.
    • “The family orange is for everyone.” A- wanted to share the orange with both W- and me.
    • “How do I type KLM livery?”
    • I wanted to try leading A- in an activity about letters. I asked her if she wanted to learn more about the letters in her name or the letters in “plane.” She picked “plane,” so I got the corresponding magnetic letters and traced them on some paper on top of a cookie sheet. I pretended they were airplanes requesting permission from air traffic control to land, and A- directed them to the appropriate hangars. We also mixed them up and put them back in the right hangars. She’s already familiar with all the letters, so I just wanted to lay the groundwork for arranging letters by imitating an example. Nice quick activity – A- did about three rounds before moving on.
  • Self-care and independence
    • A- asked us to put her scleral shell in. What a difference compared to how she resisted the conformer!
    • “I look just like you! I have two eyes! It looks so real.” Also, A- was totally flipping her hair when she showed W- her new scleral shell.
    • A- got a new scleral shell. She was so happy to get it. “I look just like you! I have two eyes! It looks so real!” When she showed W-, she even flipped her hair a few times. I’m not sure where she picked up that gesture, but it was hilarious.
    • A- opened the fridge, got her own milk carton, brought it to the table, and poured milk into her cup.
    • A- got a little sunburnt. Good thing J- had aloe vera gel.
    • “I’m so so so so so so very happy,” A- said about her new scleral shell.
    • “I want to decide when I can eat ice cream.”
  • Eating
    • A- tried pasta with tomato sauce. She said, “It turns out I like it.”
  • Sleep
    • A- had a cold. She asked to sleep on top of me while I sat against two pillows.
  • Household
    • We went to the lumber yard to buy tongue-and-groove wood for the porch. When we got home, A- helped carry it in. She carried small pieces all by herself and stashed them under her cubbies in the living room.
  • Social
    • We visited Jen, Ewan, and E-. A- wanted to go to a splash pad. There were none close by, so we hooked up the hose and the kids had fun spraying in the driveway. They took turns filling each other’s watering cans and drew shapes on the ground. A- even experimented with backing into the spray. After lots of water play, they helped move soil in the garden.
    • A- experimented with having a babysitter for 7 hours, and she still found it to be too short. The babysitter helped A- make a heart-shaped bag. Then both of them went all the way to the adventure playground in High Park. When they got back, they tried out leaf prints. Next week, the babysitter is thinking of focusing on the letters in A-‘s name.
    • We went to a small drop-in centre which had an early literacy specialist and a parent support worker. There seemed to be lots of kids just a little younger than A-. Circle time focused on book-related songs and activities.
  • Pretend
    • A- asked me (and later W-) to pretend to be a serger. By that, she meant for us to cut with the scissors while she moved the paper forward and made noises.
    • A- going to bed: How do little planes go to sleep? I’m in my hangar. What do they use to cover their front wheels? I ate a lot of luggage.
    • A- pretended to make recorder head joints. She tested her crayons against my hand or the table to determine if they would make good blocks, and pretended to go through the steps she remembered from the video.
  • Cognition
    • I helped A- complete a simple puzzle two ways: once outside in, and once focusing on the content.
    • A- completed the dog puzzle with a little help. She liked focusing on one dog at a time, and started asking for pieces based on features she needed.
  • World
    • A- really wanted J- and W- to help her try tinikling.
  • Other
    • At the Nobody’s Perfect workshop, we received a set of booklets about different aspects of parenting, and we talked about play. I asked about developmentally-appropriate expectations in terms of tidying up in between activities, and they recommended involving A-. A- mostly stayed with me, although she occasionally wandered off to play independently.
  • Oops
    • I lost my wallet at the playground. Oops! I think it had fallen out of my pocket when I pulled out a wipe for A-‘s nose. That should teach me not to put important things into the shallow back pockets on women’s jeans.

Blog posts


Category The other week % Last week % Diff % h/wk Diff h/wk
Sleep 30.5 34.5 4.0 57.9 6.7
Discretionary – Family 0.2 3.9 3.7 6.5 6.2
Personal 4.4 5.4 1.0 9.0 1.7
Discretionary – Productive 5.5 6.2 0.6 10.3 1.0
Discretionary – Social 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
A- 41.1 40.9 -0.3 68.7 -0.4
Business 1.9 0.3 -1.6 0.5 -2.7
Discretionary – Play 7.3 5.6 -1.7 9.4 -2.9
Unpaid work 9.1 3.3 -5.8 5.6 -9.7