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Me and Sylvia, walkin' down the line (May 2005)


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Understanding makes the mind lazy.

Penelope Fitzgerald

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Thursday, February 24th, 2005

🦋 Movie Night

Our latest movie is "The Muppet Movie". Sylvia had a cold this week so we rented it for her to watch with Ellen during the day on Wednesday; but they did not get to it, so Sylvia and I ended up watching it over the course of Wednesday evening and this evening. (Also I watched it in full Tuesday night after Sylvia was in bed -- did I mention this is one of my favorite films ever?) Great, great, great. Great soundtrack, great caricature, great cameos (the best IMO is Orson Welles but all are excellent), great plot! Sylvia said after the end of the movie, "Let's get this one again sometime." I could not agree more.

posted evening of February 24th, 2005: Respond
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Monday, February 21st, 2005

The Phantom Tollbooth -- last night and tonight we read Chapter 12, "The Valley of Sound". More synaesthesia in this chapter; it reminded me again a bit of Fantasia, but moreso of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" -- the Soundkeeper struck me as very reminiscent of Willie Wonka, with her cloistered and volatile persona, and the sound laboratory would have fit right into Wonka's factory.

posted evening of February 21st, 2005: Respond
➳ More posts about The Phantom Tollbooth

Sunday, February 20th, 2005

🦋 Dream blogging

Been a while since I did one of these...

In my dream last night, there was a small fad amongst the educated bloggers, to come up with words with a high number and variety of shades of meaning, and then to write a snarky post exploiting the variance... I think this stemmed from the debate between Katherine and Rilkefan at Obsidian Wings, over whether the Bush administration's lies merit the term "lies" or not. Anyways, I was reading a post on one of the language mavens' blogs, introducing a new twist -- his idea was to pick a word with many shades of meaning, and write rhyming definitions for all of those meanings. (He cheated a bit by ending all of his definitions with a participle, naturally they all rhymed.) He also used some interesting invented words in the definitions but I am not sure whether this was part of the game or part of the dream-reality.

Meanwhile Tom Tomorrow was writing a narrative comic strip about his being given a mansion by the widow of a wealthy industrialist -- the mansion was in the town of Tomorrow, California, in the Sierra foothills. I entered into the strip's reality and added a storyline in which my mother was ballooning in the foothills and landed by the Tomorrow mansion. Scooby-doo-esque adventures ensued (with a bit of a darker edge) but I don't remember any of the details.

posted morning of February 20th, 2005: Respond
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Friday, February 18th, 2005

The Phantom Tollbooth -- tonight we read Chapter 11, "Dynne and Dischord", or rather we read about half of it and Sylvia fell asleep. Funny that Juster worked in two consecutive "Fantasia" references -- the end of Chapter 10 referred (so think I) to the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor segment of the film, and the beginning of Chapter 11 referred (less arguably) to the The Sorcerer's Apprentice segment.

posted evening of February 18th, 2005: Respond
➳ More posts about Norton Juster

Thursday, February 17th, 2005

The Phantom Tollbooth -- we read Chapter 10 tonight, "The Symphony of Color". It has nice resonances with two other books, "The Philharmonic Gets Dressed", which we read for bedtime story fairly often, and "Zin Zin Zin! A Violin!", which we read less frequently; and with Fantasia, which we watched a few weeks ago -- this last I suspect may have been Juster's source for the chapter, some of his imagery reminded me very strongly of the film.

posted evening of February 17th, 2005: Respond
➳ More posts about Readings

🦋 User Interface feature

When you have a list box that gets items added to it on a continuing basis over the course of a program, it is nice for the list box to scroll downwards as items are added, so the most recent one is always visible. Except when the user is involved in reading some older items -- then this behavior is very annoying. Here is a solution, as implemented in an MFC application -- pretty easy to translate to C/C++* -- other languages, you're on your own:

int GetVisibleCount(CListBox &lb)
    CRect rct;
    int iHgt = lb.GetItemHeight(0);
    return (rct.bottom - / iHgt;

    // handler for a custom "Add Item" message
    const char *msg   = (const char *) lp;

    int iTop = m_lbRealtimeStatus.GetTopIndex();

        // "static" because I am never resizing the 
        // lb -- if you are you will need to calc 
        // this every time.
    static visibleCount = GetVisibleCount(m_lbStatus);
    if (iTop == m_lbStatus.GetCount() - 1 - visibleCount)
        m_lbStatus.SetTopIndex(iTop + 1);
    return 0L;

So what I am doing is, every time I add an item, I check what the current topmost visible index of the list box is -- if it is not equal to the number of items in the list box less the number of visible items, then I do not scroll. (Note that this calculation doesn't work when there are fewer items in the list box than the max number that will fit on the screen; but that does not matter because there is no need to scroll anyways in that situation.)

* That is to say, C or C++ where you are not using MFC classes.

posted afternoon of February 17th, 2005: Respond
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Wednesday, February 16th, 2005

The Phantom Tollbooth -- we read Chapter 9 tonight -- Sylvia is really enjoying the characters though I'm not sure how much of the plot she is getting. Details which captivate her: the sisters named Rhyme and Reason, which are not proper names like Sylvia or Emily; the dog mistakenly named Tock even though the sound he makes is tick-tick-tick; the box given by King Azaz to Milo, which contains all the words that will ever be used -- this last reminds me a bit of Borges' Library of Babel and I wonder whether Juster had that in mind.

posted evening of February 16th, 2005: Respond
➳ More posts about Sylvia

Friday, February 11th, 2005

The Phantom Tollbooth: Tonight we will read Chapter 6, the story of Rhyme and Reason as told by Faintly Macabre. Sylvia is maintaining interest in the story and remembers the characters and situations from day to day.

posted afternoon of February 11th, 2005: Respond

Thursday, February 10th, 2005

🦋 Gung He Fat Choy

Happy Year of the Rooster! Here are some pictures of Sylvia with friends Sasha, Kaydi, and Samantha, at the FCC new year's party.

posted evening of February 10th, 2005: Respond

Sunday, February 6th, 2005

🦋 Chapter book

Sylvia has recently gotten interested in the idea of reading chapter books. This is good news for me because I am interested in reading chapter books with her. The first one we read, last week, was a not very well-written or thought-out book about two children who discover a magical tree-house that enables them to travel back in time, apparently part of a series, this one has them go back to prehistory and interact with dinosaurs.

On Friday I bought Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollboth, which is one of my favorite books from my own childhood. I was not sure whether Sylvia was quite ready for it but figured it was worth a try. And it seems to have been a good choice -- we have read 2 chapters so far and she is paying very close attention.

Paying attention is a major topic of the book and I am having the feeling while reading it, that I should have taken it more to heart when I read it as a boy; or that I should have reread it around the time I started to forget it, in my early twenties. Not paying sufficient attention is a big part of what I have been doing wrong in the past ten or so years. Seems like it should be easy enough to change back... Hoping my facility to pay attention has not atrophied from neglect.

posted evening of February 6th, 2005: Respond

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