Forgetting a baby

I was pointed to this
in the Washington Post from the Making Light
blog, one of many I read in Google Reader before
breakfast most mornings.

Like a lot of people, my first reaction was, “How can anyone
forget a baby?” But then I remembered a story from the early

At that time, I had a cat named Geoffrey. I
thought he should be an indoor cat, but he wanted to be an
outdoor cat enough that in spite of how much bigger, stronger,
and smarter I was than he was, he quite often got out the door
when I got home.


He didn’t want to be outdoors for very long at a time, and he
seemed to have a healthy fear of cars, so nothing very terrible
ever happened because of this — he would prowl around for half
an hour or so and then come sit by the front door and wait for
me to open it. I had the pet owner’s physical sense of where
Geoffrey was in relationship to me, so I always remembered to go
open the door a half an hour after this.

But one night, when the temperature was in the teens and headed
down to the single digits, I got home to a full answering
machine of messages I needed to do things about. I handled them
as well as I could, and tumbled into bed.

I think it was about 3 PM that I woke up to the sounds of a
very indignant cat outside on my front steps, and realized that
I had completely forgotten to let Geoffrey in.

I think I took this as a sign that I was trying to do too much,
and that this incident was one of many that led to my resigning
as chair of my neighborhood association, which had been the
source of all the answering machine messages.

But in any case, this happening gives me more sympathy for the
parents who somehow got their mental wiring screwed up enough to
forget a baby in a locked car on a hot day.

Thinking about this on my walk with Sunny this morning, I can
think of several reasons why this baby-baking phenomenon is
happening more often now than it used to:

  • More people trying to do too many things at once. You can
    make a case that just having a baby in this era is already too
    many things at once.
  • The technical problem alluded to in the article, where
    current thinking on physical safety of babies in cars leads to
    the car seat being in the back seat with the baby facing the
    rear of the car, that is, away from the driver.
  • Increased worry about security leading people to leave their
    cars locked with all the windows closed as a general rule. I’m
    sure when I was growing up (before most cars had air
    conditioning), most people left some windows open when they left
    their car on a hot day. When I leave Sunny in the car, which I
    try to avoid on days that are particularly cold or hot, I always
    leave two windows open several inches. Of course, he looks like
    a pretty formidable watchdog, even if he’s mostly retired these days.


I’ve loved you so long

I watched I’ve
loved you so long
last night, and really enjoyed
it. I don’t remember seeing the original review, but I saw a
preview on something else I watched, and added it to my netflix
queue on the basis of the acting, and also because I like to
watch a French movie from time to time, on the theory that it
might help keeping up my French conversation skills, such as
they are.

My favorite part was the scene where the drunken host of a
party decides that the right game to play is to find out what
Juliette, the main character, has been doing before she suddenly
appeared in her sister’s life. Even people who don’t know the
answer try to convince him that he’s being boorish, but he
persists, and finally Juliette tells the literal truth: “I was
in prison for 15 years for murder.” Everybody bursts out
laughing, and they all assure the host that he’s no match for
Juliette’s wit. (The man who’s getting interested in Juliette
sees that it isn’t a joke, but that part is clearly a fairy

The same party conversation has an argument about Eric
. There are clearly
similarities with the production values that bowled me over when
I first saw Ma
nuit chez Maude
. For instance, you believe that the scenes
in the kitchen were filmed by someone who had washed dishes at
least once. But I think the characters are much more
three-dimensional than is typical in Rohmer’s movies.

One disadvantage of the movie: the title comes from the folk
song A la claire fontaine, which I almost know, so
I’ve had it running through my head a little bit wrong all day.


I’m really sorry its been so long (over a year now) since I uploaded new stuff,
and I still haven’t done that, but I went through the stuff that
was still using ancient versions of lilypond and uploaded some of
it that is now using less ancient versions, including:

  • Campian, Never weather-beaten Saile
  • Dowland, Me, me and none but me
  • Gibbons, The Silver Swan
  • Josquin, Deploration on the death of
  • Morley, April is in my mistress’ face

Nokia 810 syncs with google calendar

E-reading history

When I had my first pocket computer (a Palm III in 1999 or so), I discovered
that while I could live without my appointments and TODO list in
my pocket, I really liked being able to carry books around and
read them without adjusting lighting, and with adjusting the type
size to the state of my eyes. Since then, I’ve upgraded
the pocket device several times, including twice when the current
one wasn’t even broken.

Most recently, my Nokia 770 died with the White Screen of
Death. I had really liked it as a reader, with the size and
resolution of the screen being at a really good point, where you
can still get a reasonable fraction of a page on it at a readable
type size, but it still slips into a pocket easily.

When I bought it, I had hopes of being able to use the other
features, and found I mostly didn’t. The music player didn’t play
music loud enough, I didn’t feel like working hard enough to sync
the calendar with the google calendar that’s easiest to use on the
desktop and laptop, the sites I wanted to browse when I could
connect wirelessly seemed to use flash…

So when I had to replace it, I considered the Nokia 810, for
which the software is a bit better supported and which includes
features that aren’t on the 770, but also thought
about the ipod touch or a netbook.

In the end, I decided that the right screen size was the
important thing, and went with the 810.

As a reader, it’s at least as good as the 770. The screen is
the same size. I miss the built-in hard case, but the vinyl
envelope seems to work pretty well, and the foldout stand actually
does make it easier to use as a reader. The FBReader version
seems to be behind the one on my Ubuntu 8.10 desktop, which is a
pity since there’s a new feature that lets you download books
directly from some of the online free libraries that would be
really useful.


Of the normal PIM functions, the only one I really wish I had
was the calendar. I’m pretty good at keeping my immediate future
in my head, but I’ve several times double-booked by depending on
that, and it would be good to not have to.

The built-in calendar seems pretty basic. For instance, I
haven’t figured out a way to configure it so that the daily view
shows you evening appointments.

However, there is an application called erminig which will
sync your google calendar with the GPE calendar. (This is not the
calendar that comes pre-loaded, but it can be easily installed
from the application manager.)

I installed this in my first set of installs from the
application manager, but stopped fiddling with it when my first
attempt said it couldn’t connect to google.

This week on the maemo-users list there was a long thread
started by someone who had bought an 810 and had been unable to
find an application he really wanted to use enough to be worth the
trouble of putting it in his pocket. At various points this was
about to degenerate into a flamefest, but a number of people
answered seriously about what they use their nokia tablets for,
including a couple who said they used erminit.

So I started another thread asking how they’d done it. Nobody
really said anything helpful, except that if I could get to google
calendar via the browser, it must be something wrong with the
erminig configuration. So I found the config file and looked at
it, and sure enough, it had my password in the clear, and it
started with a capital letter. The real password begins with a
lower-case letter. Fiddling with the shift key didn’t seem to
change this.

On my next dog walk, I realized that I could just enter some
other letter as the first letter, and then delete it, so I did
that and was successfully able to connect to google. Then the
next issue was that my 8 PM Monday recorder lesson was listed as 1
AM on Tuesday, but that was obviously a time zone issue, and I
fixed it. So now I have a working calendar that I can carry in my
pocket. I’ll let you know if there are problems with the syncing,
but so far it looks pretty good.

I get annoyed at people who complain about the quality of Free
Software and don’t report the bugs they find, so I did spend the
time this morning to register at and fill out the bug

But if you run into anyone claiming that the 810 is ready for
consumer use out of the box, you can tell them this story.

Other stuff

Another application I downloaded immediately, and even went to
the computer store and spent $8 on an adaptor for it, is the one that
allows a USB keyboard to plug in to the 810. This does seem to
work, but I haven’t used it yet. If I were to figure out how to
install emacs, it would be more useful.

I haven’t even bothered to install the app that would let me
use the camera. I hardly ever use the one on my cell phone — the
pictures that have been on this blog were taken with a real
digital camera.

I was interested in trying the GPS feature, and it did find my
latitude and longitude and let me look at it on a map, but in
order to get navigation you need to send somebody some more money,
and it sounds like if you’re going to do that, a special purpose
GPS device is still a better deal.

I haven’t yet tried the PDF reader, and most of the browsing
I’ve done hasn’t worked well without my glasses. But maybe
they’ll turn out to be of some use.

Site updated

I’ve been very remiss in not updating the site, although I have
been doing some transcriptions, and a certain amount of editing
old transcriptions as problems appear.

I can’t give you a good list of what’s changed, but the edits
to everything that’s already on the site have now been

I’m hoping to get to adding the new things that have been
transcribed since last summer soon.

And before the Boston Early Music
in June, I hope to have the site redesigned, with
better search capabilities, and a more streamlined way for me to
add things.

Revolutionary Road, by Richard Yates

One of the movie reviewers I read said that he thought the
was one of his favorite novels of the second half of
the twentieth century, but the movie was one of his least
favorite movies of 2008. So I decided I should read the book, and
I finished it last night.

I enjoyed it; I was born in 1951, so all the costume and home
decorating descriptions are of things that I can just
remember, and they seem accurate.

I think the best thing about the book is the descriptions of
the characters’ body language, for instance, in this first scene
with the Wheelers and the Campbells:

…they sank into various postures of controlled

Milly Campbell dropped her shoes and squirmed deep into the
sofa cushions, her ankles snug beneath her buttocks and her
uplifted face crinkling into a good sport’s smile — not the
prettiest girl in the world, maybe, but cute and quick and fun to
have around.

Beside her, Frank slid down on the nape of his spine until
his cocked leg was as high as his head. His eyes were already
alert for conversational openings and his thin mouth already
moving in the curly shape of wit, as if he were rolling a small,
bitter lozenge on his tongue.

Shep, massive and dependable, a steadying influence on the
group, set his meaty knees wide apart, and worked his tie loose
wiht muscular fingers, to free his throat for gusts of

And finally, hte last to settle, April arranged herself with
careless elegance in the sling chair, her head thrown back on the
canvas to blow sad, aristocratic spires of cigarette smoke at the

The weakest part seems to me to be the description of Frank at
work. It’s laudable for a novelist to try, but it doesn’t ring
true to me that someone who has been trying for years to not
think about his job at all would suddenly come up with a piece
of writing about it that would impress upper management so
much. Or that having done the impressing, the job wouldn’t
start taking up more of Frank’s mind than the omniscient
narrator leads us to believe that it does.

If I were casting the movie, for the female lead I’d go straight for January Jones,
who plays the troubled suburban housewife on Mad
. But I can imagine Kate Winslett doing fine. I’m glad
they didn’t go for Gwyneth Paltrow, who is in my opinion
overrated. When she did Sylvia Plath, she convinced me that she
could commit suicide, but not that she could write poetry.

For the male lead, I was initally dubious about Leonardo de
Caprio, since it’s obvious that at the start of the book he
should be much less attractive a figure than his wife. But as
the plot unfolds and he becomes more confident and she becomes
less so, I can imagine him playing down his matinÉe idol
looks at the beginning and then uncovering them gradually.

I haven’t seen the movie, nor is it on my Netflix list, and I’m not
going to put it there unless someone tells me something better
about the movie than I’ve heard so far. But I do recommend the
book if you’re at all interested in marriage, work, madness, and
general life in the nineteen fifties.

Following up

I expect on a more or less weekly basis to post a short series
of paragraphs that update previous posts.


Last Friday, I wrote about my new tuner. I
said that I was having trouble even getting it to slow down when
playing a recorder. I took it to my lesson that evening, to see
what a professional recorder player (John Tyson) could do with
it. As you would expect, he did much better than I did, with no
trouble getting the spinning lights to slow down, but it was a
great deal of effort for him to make them stop. (When you watch
a professional recorder player play with one of the needle ones,
it really looks like the needle doesn’t move at all.) At my next
lesson, he asked me if I’d been working with the tuner (not much,
because of the concert), and recommended doing so, because it
would be good feedback on getting an even tone.

Pruning Roses

On Saturday, I wrote about finally being able to get to the
rosebush in my
garden plot

. Unfortunately, we had an unusual cold snap this
week, with temperatures in the teens (fahrenheit) for several
days, and maybe in the single digits at night. So while last
week I worried that I was leaving it too late, if having the raw
cuts exposed to cold is a bad thing, maybe I should have waited
another week. And now I’m worried about how the poor little buds
did with the cold, too.

to my pruning shears.


I said yesterday that the
pharmacy had the authorization, and was claiming that they would
fill the prescription for the insulin syringes in a small number
of hours. I called them several times, and they still hadn’t done
it as of 4 PM. So I called this morning, and they finally had them. But
this morning my fasting blood sugar was 201, which is much higher
than it ever is when I’m taking insulin. I’m going to try to get
time to write to the hospital ombudsman or whatever it’s called
these days. There should definitely be a system for getting
people medication in less than a week, and for expediting
medications that people are out of.