Oliver Turns 2

Oliver’s day, or at least the part I was awake for, started with a visit to Dr. Champion for his annual checkup. Oliver used this occasion to provide us with a full-on introduction to the “terrible twos” and conducted a cosmic freakout, complete with writhing and screaming, that effectively prevented the good Doctor from doing anything more than looking in his ears and weighing him.

We returned home to gifts in the mail from Brother Mike and the Carlisle grandparents. Oliver was especially intrigued by Mike’s present of a “shapes cage” wherein the goal is to place the appropriate shape in the appropriately shaped hole. He was very frustrated at the lack of universality in the game — i.e. that round peg would not fit in square hole. This seems like a Good SIgn to me.

Tonight, Oliver’s small birthday gathering was graced with many luminaries from near and far.

First there was Catherine Hennessey, host of the gathering, and gifter of a prized pink piggy bank with promises to fill same with toonies as the years progress.

Catherine’s sister Mary Clare (or Marie Claire; I can’t get her to tell me) was there as well, and as well as marshalling together a fantastic salad, was her usual charming self.

Just as the night was reaching a fever pitch — candles lit and me ready to teach Oliver how to blow — who should walk in by AE Thurlow and her crew.

This included not only God in Aubergine Jacket David, but also an exotic guest star from away: Bob Henson a meteorologist from Boulder and author of The Rough Guide to Weather.

Candles were blown, stories told, and a good time was had by all.

Onward and upward to the threes.


Aside from the panic and the waiting and the worry, endless worry, the things I remember most about the day Oliver was born are the sounds.

Oliver was born by a C-section that was convened in a hurry at the last minute after his heart rate started diving into the low 60s the day before he was to be induced out.

I remember the unearthly quite of the surgery waiting room where I waited with Dr. Peter Noonan, the wonderful paediatrician who attended the affair.

I remember the constant beep, beep, beep of the machines in the NICU that helped keep Oliver alive. I remember being scared to death that they would stop beeping their “he’s still alive” beeps.

But most of all I remember the sound of his emergence from Catherine. It is a hard sound to describe, and I’m fairly certain that I was the only one in the world to hear it clearly (Catherine and the medical people being distracted by other things, obviously).

The sound was sort of exactly like you would think it would be, a sort of schlorpt sound. To approximate it as you read this, you can put your tongue on the roof of your mouth, then pull your tongue quickly back and down and back while taking a quick breath in.

But that will be only an approximation. I will never forget that sound.

Oliver was born on Sunday, October 1, 2000 and by Tuesday he had bounced back from near oblivion and has been a happy healthy boy ever since.

My friend Stephen Good says that becoming a parent is like joining a club that, before you join it, you can’t understand why you would ever want to join, and after you join it you can’t imagine why you didn’t join sooner. He’s right. Oliver is a joy to be around, and has changed my life in untold ways.

So please join me tomorrow in wishing Oliver a happy second birthday. It’s the end of free airfare and the start of the really exciting years.



Last week’s television week wrapped up on Thursday night with the season premiere of er. Careful readers will note that I have abandoned the television sitcom entirely in favour of crime, politcal and medical dramas, so if you want my take on 8 Simple Rules or Life with Bonnie you’re out of luck.

When er started I was a big fan; I watched religiously for the first several seasons and found many of the episodes gripping.

Then I stopped watching for a couple of years, only tuning in for the “character X leaves the show because they are dead \| going fishing \| moving to Baltimore” episodes. I found the lack of some characters, and the introduction of others confusing, especially because the show is somewhat driven by the personal lives of its characters, so it’s mildly important to keep track of the broad arcs of their lives.

Last year I tuned in more frequently, and although it was milked for everything it was worth, and accompanied by a full-on onslaught of “a very special episode of er” promotional commercials, I found the “death of Mark Green” plot very compelling, especially the closing episode, shot primarily in Hawaii.

The season opener was a continuation of last year’s “smallpox hits the er” storyline, and featured the usual panic, helicopters, kissing, etc. Besides a shocking rotor blade amputation, there was nothing to distinguish the episode and, I fear, that is the show’s problem now: there are only so many things that go go wrong in a hospital emergency room, only so many combinations of characters who can date or want to date, and the show has run through pretty well all of them.

In the world of er there’s simply nothing left to be done.


Downloaded iSync. Synced iBook to iPod to PalmPilot 5000 (which is 7 years old!). All went according to plan. Couldn’t sync with dot mac as it appears to be completely off the air tonight. iSync is slower than I would like, but it does exactly as promised.

By the way, Piloting Palm is an interesting read, especially if you’ve had a PalmPilot for a long time like I have. It’s an interesting look inside a Silicon Valley start-up, and if nothing else I learned that Big Companies work just about the same way that Little Companies do, but with more money and people’s jobs on the line. The other interesting thing I learned is that Palm hasn’t actually had a product called the Pilot for over 5 years; interesting because I’d say the at least 95% of references to a Palm device I hear day-to-day are still to PalmPilot or some variation. There marketing, viral and otherwise, was too good.

Oliver Comics Fear Cool

Oliver’s uncles Johnny and Steve were, for a period of their youth, comic book kids. Which is to say that every Saturday after going to the YMCA and before catching the Canada Coachlines bus home, they would stop at Silver Snail on James St. and load up on New Teen Titans, Justice League of America, etc. While I wouldn’t go as far as saying they were full-on geeky comic kids, I believe they did have acid free plastic bags for their comics, which is certainly an indication of something. And even now I have heard them both emit the phrase “low-level tachion pulse.”

This was all great for me and mid-level brother Mike, as we got to enjoy the fruits of the comic book purchasing and delivery systems without having to bear any of the expense or the shame.

Today wee Oliver and I (who in truth is getting less and less wee everyday) went to the Formosa Tea House for iced tea, stuffed buns and sushi. It was our first Big Trip together without the benefit of stroller, and although there were a couple of “I think I’ll just sit down now in the middle of Kent Street” episodes, he performed remarkably well.

One of the things that being bipedal affords Oliver over being wheeled around is some voice in the direction that our travels take. Often a louder and larger voice than my own. Which is how, post Formosa Tea House, we found ourselves inside Comic Hunter, the “gaming, comics and anime” store that is just down the street.

Now I have been walking by this store for as long as it’s been there, and I’ve never set foot inside the door. This is mostly due to latent fear that I will emerge to find one of my teenage bully arch nemeses outside, and I will get beaten up and have my knapsack thrown all over the schoolyard.

But, with Oliver’s help, I managed to get over this fear and while I don’t think I’m going to become a regular customer, I must say I was intriged by the breadth of the merchandise in the store, much of which, beyond comic books, I had no idea existed. I was intrigued to find, for example, that the have a “super cool lounge/gaming area” where they host a schedule of events for the geeky community.

If this sort of thing keeps up, Oliver’s going to have be inside the Sport Page Club and J. Redshoes before long…