The Runker Room was forcibly evicted from its home of 13 years (has it really been that long?) by Yahoo’s decision to close the pioneering free personal website host GeoCities on 26 October 2009. I retrieved most of my website content from the GeoCities servers before they shut down, with the intent of reposting it on another free website host. Then I learned of the joint effort of and ReoCities to preserve GeoCities websites for posterity. The archiving process was apparently a race against time, as dramatically described in “The Making of [ReoCities]”. Luckily the Runker Room was one of the websites that made it into the archive, and you can access it here:

Runker Room on ReoCities

My heartfelt thanks go to those guys — their selfless efforts saved me a lot of work!

Sign the petition to convince Yahoo! they have made a grave mistake:

Reocities Open Letter to Carol Bartz, CEO of Yahoo!


It is part of our domestic routine for me to give Tonji-kun his evening bath. He has an assortment of water-tolerant toys to play with while soaking, some of which he uses more frequently than others. Tonight, for the first time in many months (possibly a year), he chose his foam alphabet letters. After dumping out the bag contents into the bathtub, he slapped the letters to the tiled wall one-by-one in rapid succession (but in no particular order), naming each correctly with confidence. Notably, two letters he always mixed up in the past — “M” and “W” — he got straight, even though he was extremely tired.

Once all the letters were up on the wall, he decided to move them around and group them in pairs, which were seemingly random, but the end result was a bit like tarot cards:

TH: His initials and mine.

JP: We will be visiting Japan.

YG: We will leave from Edmonton International Airport (airport code: YEG)

UA: Our Air Canada flight might be a codeshare with Star Alliance partner  United Airlines.

BR: The forecast temperature for Edmonton this weekend is -30 C.

XC: When it gets warmer, we will go cross-country skiing.

WM: Garbage Day is soon, when the Waste Management truck comes.

EN: Tonji-kun is learning more English, now that he attends an English-language playschool 2 mornings per week.

IQ: He is so smart! 😉

Ever since Tonji-kun was 2 years old, we have been using a disciplining technique often seen on Supernanny, the “naughty step/chair/corner”, for times when he gets out of hand. In our Canadian version, we call the designated place where he gets sent to reflect on his behaviour the Penalty Box (just a corner of the dining room, though I’ve been tempted to build a real penalty box 😉 ).

Tonight my recreational hockey league team played in the early game, so Dorami-chan and Tonji-kun came to watch. Early in the match, but far enough along for me to be “-2” (“minus two”, meaning “on the ice (and in my case, largely responsible) for 2 goals against), I put my hockey stick where it got tangled in an opposing player’s legs, and ended up getting a tripping infraction.

I didn’t argue the call with the referee on the way to the penalty box or slam the door before sitting down. Our penalty killers held off our opponents’ power play, and I played better after that, getting back to “even”. We won the game 3-2.

I think it was good for Tonji-kun to see that even his father has to go into the penalty box sometimes. The same for his regular playdate friend’s father, who is on my team and was penalized shortly after I got out. Good thing it was only for 3 minutes. If the Supernanny formula had been used (duration in minutes = age in years) we would have had to sit out most of the game!

This event snuck up on me, quite a feat given that it is only an all-day, worldwide series of concerts in support of a favourite cause, environmental awareness.  I just happened to find it while flipping through the TV channels this evening.  I must not be reading/watching the right news sources. Anyway, much like New Year’s countdowns, things started in Australia (Aussie Stadium in Sydney) and Japan (Makuhari Messe in Chiba).  In Canada, a continuous live feed from each site was shown on 2 of our cable music video channels. The broadcast from Japan wasn’t subtitled, but I could understand the announcements and stage patter in Japanese. The performers were a mixture of local groups and high-profile foreign names(read: American, like Linkin Park) . I found the mostly acoustic Sydney lineup more appealing than the mostly hard-edged Japan roster, but most of the acts were unfamiliar, and I had to go to bed before the one I did know (Crowded House) took to the stage – showing my age on all counts …  Music aside, the commercial breaks provided useful tips for reducing one’s environmental footprint with simple changes to everyday life, like:

  • Carpooling
  • Buying 100% recycled paper towels rather than white ones
  • Turning off computer monitors when not in use

I’ve never been to nor, prior to tonight, heard of Makuhari  Messe, but here are a couple of links about it:

A blizzard warning has been issued for central and northern Alberta tonight, and as much as 20 cm of snow is forecast for some parts of the region. In the Chuck, it has been overcast all day, but so far the skies are holding off. Before turning in for the night, I am taking a last look at our sidewalk and its hard-won clearness. The past few weeks has been a good long stretch without needing to shovel, but it would be unrealistic to think I’d never have to do it again until spring. What kind of winter wonderland awaits us tomorrow morning? It will be good to have some soft, fresh snow to play in — the old stuff has become icy and not much fun.

Happy Holidays to those who have stumbled upon this blog.  If you have sent us a seasonal card to our old address, don’t worry, our mail from there will be forwarded for another couple of months. We all have slight colds, but are otherwise well and hoping for (more) peace in the world.

For the past couple of months, when people have asked me how old Tonji-kun is, I have been saying “a year and a half”, much to the displeasure of Dorami-chan. She thinks by rounding up his age I am creating unreasonable expectations for his behaviour in public. But by the checklist for 18-month development recently published by the Ontario Medical Association, Tonji-kun can hold his own with the average 1.5 year old:

The Enhanced 18-month Well Baby Visit

From the Nipissing District Developmental Screen (TM)

By 18 Months of age, does your child:

1. Identify pictures in a book? – He has been doing this for a while. Latest ones include “hoshi (star)”, “ha wo migaku (brush teeth)”, “mikan (orange)”, “momo (peach)”, “saru (monkey)”, “hebi (snake)”, “ari (ant)”, “hasami (scissors)”.
2. Use familiar gestures? – He uses as much sign language as we can teach him. Latest sign: “budoh (grapes)” – pretend to build cluster on back of wrist with fingers of other hand.
3. Follow directions when given without gestures? – He has been doing this for a while. For example, after his nightly bath, I can ask him to turn the bathroom fan on and the light off.

4. Use common expressions? Yes, his latest one is “Neh (“Eh”, or “Isn’t that so”)?

5. Point to at least three different body parts when asked? Yes, he knows “atama (head)”, “me (eye)”, “mimi (ear)”, “hana (nose)”, “kuchi (mouth)”, “te (hand)”, “ashi (foot)”, “heso (bellybutton)”, “oshiri (bottom)”.

6. Say 5 or more words (words do not have to be clear)? – Yes, some new ones are “toto (totte = get that)”, “itai (ow)”, “meh-meh (baa-baa, sheep)”, “moh-moh (moo-moo, cow)”

7. Hold a cup to drink? – He has been doing this for a while, and doesn’t spill very much any more.

8. Pick up and eat finger food? – He has been doing this for a while, and he has impressed strangers with his use of a fork and spoon.

9. Help with dressing by putting out arms and legs? He has been doing this since last month. Now he recognizes different articles of clothing and what is expected of him (e.g. shirt has sleeves to put arms into).

10. Crawl or walk up stairs/steps? – He has been doing this for a while – he can go down stairs also. He recently did his first dengurigaeshi (somersault).

11. Walk alone? – Yes, he prefers to, and often in his own direction.

12. Squat to pick up a toy without falling? He has been doing this for a while

13. Push and pull toys or other objects while walking? Yes, he has been doing this since the summer at 12 months, when he was helping to dig and rake in the garden. Now he is pushing a broom inside and trying out his father’s hockey sticks.

14. Stack 3 or more blocks? Yes, but if it is a stack somebody else built, he will knock it down.

15. Show affection towards people, pets, or toys? Yes, he doesn’t have a favourite toy yet, though. He has already kissed a girl at playgroup!

16. Point to show you something? Yes, he has been doing this since 12 months.

17. Look at you when you are talking or playing together? Yes, especially if he wants you to do something for him.

It warmed up a bit today (minus 6 C), so Dorami-chan braved the snowy streets of Edmonton to make her near-daily visit to a Tim Hortons donut shop. In two and a half years she had been to almost all the 18 outlets in Kingston before we moved. With 53 locations in Edmonton, she has a bigger project on her hands, but she has already noticed some differences in the level of service and has some favorites.
Today her coffee came in this year’s holiday season cup, which features a picture of a group of skaters playing hockey. Tonji-kun, unprompted, pointed at this and said, “Otohsan (Father)”. The couple of recreational league games he has seen me play seem to have made an impression!

Tonji-kun keeps growing:

  • Physical
    • Height – he is taller, and able to reach items on countertops. Dorami-chan‘s usable kitchen cupboard and drawer space has shrunk further! We will need to install some hanging cabinets out of his range. 18-month-sized clothes fit him perfectly.
    • Teeth – he doesn’t open his mouth wide, but there must be some molars coming in at the back (see Sleep below).
  • Motor :
    • He is more comfortable using a (baby) fork and spoon.
    • He can climb into and out of his baby chair.
    • Lately he does a “happy dance” when pleased.
    • He has tried standing on one leg (cheating a bit with hands on the table); we think he is emulating the skating of the hockey players he sees on TV.
  • Language
    • Speech:
      • Ban ban ban (Boom boom boom)!” – when he sees a picture of hanabi (fireworks).
      • Ma (uma = horse)” – he will say this when we start down a road we frequent that eventually passes by horse stables.
    • Signs – some new ones:
      • oishii (delicious) – open hand touches the back of the head
      • sakana (fish) – hands palms together, making a S-shaped swerving motion
    • Comprehension:
      • When asked, he can point out:
        • shingo (traffic light)
        • shimauma (zebra)
        • kirin (giraffe)
        • kutsushita (socks)
        • tebukuro (mittens)
        • saru (monkey)
        • ari (ant)
        • megane (eyeglasses)
        • face parts: mem-me (eyes), mimi (ear), hana (nose) – he will squeeze mine and expect to hear a “beep”.
      • Body parts: dressing and undressing is less of a battle when I ask him for his right/left arm/leg.
      • His full name – when his full name is called, he will raise his arm – only part way, though, so it looks like a Nazi salute (we’ll have to work with him on that!).
      • Negotiation – Dorami-chan was able to make a deal with him to keep wearing his hated mittens in exchange for pulling his sled one more time around our local park. As soon as she stopped, off came the mittens!
    • English – We use only Japanese when speaking to him, but he attends a couple of English-language playgroups, and has regular playdates with a couple of English-speaking buddies. And there are all those hockey broadcasts on television …
  • Social:
    • When I return from work, he comes to the door and bows “Okaerinasai (Welcome home)”.
    • At bedtime, from inside his crib he will pass me one or more of his stuffed animals so I won’t feel lonely.
    • He has met the babysitter Dorami-chan recruited, and behaves himself around her.
    • Dorami-chan brought him to one of my recreational league hockey games, where he was able to get right up close to the boards (they were the only specators in the arena). He pounded the protective glass with both hands like a veteran fan.
  • Toys:
    • Sled – it’s going to be a long winter – he enjoys riding in this, but likes walking around on his own better.
    • Shoehorn – Ours is the long kind – he enjoys using it like a walking stick, or a snow shovel.
    • Box – We finally finished the case of tortilla chips left over from Halloween – he has been very imaginitive with the empty box.
    • Hand puppet – He has figured out how these work
    • “Spot” – He got this stuffed toy dog from Jii-jii (Grampa) a couple of weeks ago. It is as big as he is, but he drags it around the house and knows it by name.
  • Food:

    • He is pretty much weaned off breast milk now. He eats most everything, but not beans yet — he isn’t giving Dorami-chan and me competition for the natto (fermented soybeans)!
    • He “drinks” wine and beer – he will put my glass to his lips and tilt it a bit, then sign “Oishii (delicious)”.
    • He likes nori (roasted dried seaweed) and wakame (kelp). When given the mini-onigiri (rice balls) Dorami-chan makes for his snack, he will peel off the nori wrapping and eat it first!
  • Sleep:
    • When tired, he will say “Nen-ne (beddy-bye)”, climb into bed and pull the covers around himself.
    • He has slept through the night on a number of occasions, but with teething he has had some miserable nights, too.

Tonji-kun continues to exhaust and amaze us. Here are some new developments:

  • Mobility – The older boys (and girls) at Japanese playgroup seem to have inspired him. He can spin around now, and walks with confidence and speed along a narrow bench, humouring his anxious father by letting him hold his hand. Another increase in height has brought the edges of countertops into his range.
  • Speech – not a whole lot new here:
    • Non-no” – Dorami-chan thinks this came from her asking him about riding his rocking horse: “Noru no (Are you going to ride)?” To him it means: “I want to play”, “I want that to play with”, or “Make this thing play”.
    • Baa” – his book of “Inai-inai-baa” (Japanese for Peek-a-boo).
    • Nen-ne” – sleep or bedtime (“Neru” = “to sleep” in Japanese)
    • Ma” – horse (“uma” in Japanese)
    • Shrieking – has diminished considerably in frequency, but not volume!
  • Signs – progress here is limited by his parents’ ignorance:
    • “Apple”, “water”, “milk”, “book”
  • Comprehension – non-random actions are evidence of processing going on in his head:
    • When he comes across the picture of an animal in his book, he will point to his stuffed toy version (if he has one).
    • When asked to turn the lights on or off, he will ask to be picked up, then will flick the lightswitch.
    • When asked to sit in his “high” (actually low) chair to eat, he will clamber in.
    • When we say, “Banzai!” he raises his arms, making it easier to pull off his shirt.
    • When asked to sleep, he will gather the covers around himself and put his head on the pillow.
  • Diet
    • He has quite an appetite — he has his own dinner at 5pm, then joins his parents for some of theirs at 6-7pm. Sounds like somebody …
    • He can use a regular cup or bowl, a skill he demonstrates regularly at bathtime, much to the consternation of his father. Luckily it is usually at the start of his bath, when the bathwater is relatively clean. He punctuates each gulp with a satisfied “Ahhhhh”.
  • Social
    • Bows to say “Konnichiwa (hello)” and “Arigato (thank you)”. A real Japanese!
    • Claps and says “Ahhhh-ah” at eerily appropriate times during hockey games.
    • Affectionate, but his clumsy hugs are more like football tackles.
    • Easily impressed — Says “Oooh” and “Woah” a lot.
    • Has developed a “diabolical mad scientist laugh” – hearty, head thrown back, mouth wide open.
  • Play
    • He loves the outdoors, the wind on his face.
    • Swimming – always comfortable in the water, and able to blow bubbles now.
    • Dancing – will bop along to any kind of music
    • Brave – goes down the playground slide head first.
    • Itai no itai no tondeike“- Dorami-chan has made getting an “owie” into a game where she gathers up the hurt by rubbing the injured area, then throws it into the air, or more recently at me. Great. But this works — soon he is laughing. Tell the pain management folks.
    • Always has eyes for the TV remote control. What a guy.
  • Memory – when watching an NHK video of Japanese children’s songs, he recognized the drawing style of the artist who did the animation, who also illustrated one of his storybooks
  • Sleep – the biggest change — for all of us! He is sleeping on his own in his crib now, and falls asleep without bedtime breastfeeding. He is then generally good until morning, although he half awakes a couple of times a night. Everybody is a bit better rested — all the more energy to expend during the day!
April 2019
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