Sunny and warm again, so we went to Skansen.

We spent what felt like hours at the fairground (Galejan) even though they have like five rides in total, two of which are swing carousels (small and large). Adrian wanted to try the merry-go-round but started crying and wanted off the horse as soon as the whole thing started moving. Then he wanted to try the small swing carousel (“gunga! gunga! gunga!”) but again started crying as soon as it started.

Ingrid spent 5 kronor of her pocket money on a whac-a-mole game and was disappointed to tears when it ended after just a minute, and she got nothing more than some electronic points on a screen.

On our way to the children’s zoo Ingrid spotted a sign that said you could try your hand at traditional farmstead jobs. At that moment they were doing textile jobs, mangling and ironing, so Ingrid got to iron a towel using an old-fashioned iron (with a fire-heated stone inside). She also tried on old-style clothes, and tested an old bed (with a hay-filled mattress and pillow, and thick plank edges, and heavy curtains), and loved both.

The children’s zoo had been redone and there was little zoo left, mostly just bridges and walkways and fences and hills, more like a playground than a zoo. Which both kids liked but I was sort of disappointed. We usually spend a good chunk of time in the Skansen zoo but this time we never even got there, and treated Skansen like a playground instead. But we did at least get to see rabbits and a squirrel and a peacock and some perch in an aquarium.

Today was the first really warm day for this spring. Jacket off, shoes off, I could actually sit in the afternoon sun in the garden without freezing. Finally, finally something that feels like spring. Even though it probably came about the same time as last year and the year before, it feels like the wet and cold period (non-winter? pre-spring?) has lasted for ever.

Look at what this weather (with repeated late cold snaps and even snowfall) has done to the daffodils. They’re totally stunted – some no taller than scillas.

I spent Monday and Tuesday at Agila Sverige (Agile Sweden). A great conference, again. Now I’m full of enthusiasm and a desire to change things. The challenge is to somehow hold on to that energy and not let it leak out. I try to visualize myself being a drip feeder rather than a sieve.

Words, words and more words – and bubbly happiness when he sees that we understand what he says. He can express his wishes and desires. He understands questions and can answer them: what, where, and yes/no. He understands explanations such as “nappy change first, then shoes”.

A very practical non-verbal word he has learned is a clear shake of the head to mean “no”. This really makes communication easier and is much preferable to screaming in protest. Clothes, for example: sometimes he wants socks and sometimes he doesn’t. Now we can ask him and he can shake his head if he doesn’t want them just then.

Among the odder words he knows are “oil” and “egg” (õli and muna) – not because he eats either of those but because he likes me to use them in cooking. He can reach the bottle of cooking oil and hand it to me, and I let him hand me eggs from the carton when I need those. He even knows the difference between cooking oil and olive oil (for drizzling on a salad or on pasta) and gives me the right one. Likewise he knows “microwave” (ikko) because he likes the way it goes “ding” when it’s done.

Nina (“nose”) must be said while simultaneously pinching his nose shut, so it sounds funny.

Istu (“sit down”) means nursing, because when I see that he wants to nurse I often tell him “let me sit down first”.

Almost all birds are anka (“duck”) – everything from flamingoes to eagles. The only bird that isn’t a duck is a rooster (which also includes hens).

He is also learning the names of his friends at nursery – and his own name, Aad-an.

I believe he may be beginning to realize that Eric and I have different words for the same thing. The only word I have heard him use in both languages is auto/bil for “car”.

He is much more willing to accept Eric than Ingrid was at this age. He now goes to sleep with Eric (because with me we often ended up in a struggle as he wanted to nurse forever instead of going to sleep) and does so without the least complaint. When I lift him down from my lap, he goes to Eric, whereas Ingrid would just stand and cry next to me.

Things he likes:

  • Books.
  • Songs and singing. Hearing us sing. He himself is also beginning to sing/hum a little.
  • Looking out through the window, especially when people pass by, ideally walking their dogs.
  • Waving good-bye or hello through the window when someone leaves home or comes back.
  • Going out.
  • Marbles and marble runs.
  • Phones, real and fake. He can take things that look nothing like a phone (such as a book, or a spoon) and pretend they’re phones – hold them to his ear and say halloo. I think it is pretty cool that he understands the concept of pretending and joking like this.
  • Putting on his shoes by himself, more or less – standing up and putting his foot in a shoe, with me holding the shoe open.
  • Hats and gloves. Putting on and taking off his jersey hat.
  • Flowers.
  • Sitting on Eric’s desk together with Ingrid while she watches a movie and he pokes at stuff.
  • Climbing or crawling into large boxes.

Things he does not like:

  • Leaving nursery. Quite often he runs to meet me, nurses, and then goes off to play again, and gets really angry when I try to make him go home. Sometimes it ends with me carrying a wriggling screaming baby towards the gate.
  • New food. He rejects pretty much anything and looks at us as if we were trying to poison him.

This has been another ordinary month with few noteworthy news to mention. Life with Ingrid has been routine and gone smoothly. There are no dramas and no mood swings.

Movies and iPad are still her number one hobby, but we still limit them to afternoons only. The fallback option is still Bamse, and at times it feels like there are Bamse issues lying all over the house (even though we gather them up every evening).

She also has a new book that she loves, about animals from various habitats around the world. About 10 animals per habitat (forest, desert, polar regions etc) and a two-page spread per animal – one large photo, and one page with some text plus a quiz of some sort. (Multiple choice, true/false, fill in the blanks…) The quizzes is what she really likes about this book. When we read it together we absolutely have to do the quiz first, together, and then we can read the facts and check whether we got it right or not.

She is distractible. She fidgets and climbs around and plays with her food and gets sidetracked during mealtimes, and forgets to apply the table manners that she used to have a good grip on. We have now initiated “Sunday dinners” as a way to train those table manners back into her: with a tablecloth, candles, flowers, and a focus on manners.

At some point during the last month or two she has started spending entire nights in her own bedroom, and no longer wanders into our bedroom at night. But she still goes to sleep with one of us sitting next to her.

She plays well with Adrian, especially at nursery/preschool. Almost every day when I get to nursery to pick them up, and they’re outdoors because of the nice weather, I see them playing together. Peekaboo in the playhouse, or she’s pushing him around on a tricycle (on which he can sit but his feet cannot reach the pedals or the gorund), or encouraging him to go down the slide.

At home there is more competition about resources (especially when Adrian tries to grab whatever she has) but she can be surprisingly flexible around this. She lets go the things that are obviously more important to Adrian than to her; distracts him with an alternative when she really wants to have her things in peace; helps him when he needs help; laughs at his antics.

Helping Adrian build a tower

Easter cards. Chickens (with long hair and eyelashes),
and eggs in various states of development:
with a tiny seed, a little wiggly worm,
and finally a tiny chick. And a ghost.

This is cool: NY Times: Copy of Mona Lisa done in tandem with Leonardo. To me the copy feels more like a Leonardo than the Mona Lisa itself, because of the dark varnish on the original.

We only decorated a handful of eggs this year. Some we dyed with onion skins, others we painted with watercolours.

The black-and-white one at the front Ingrid made especially for her judo teacher Erik: it is, of course, Erik in his white judo suit and black belt. The idea was his and not ours but it is a fun egg nevertheless.

The white cyclamen we got for Ingrid’s birthday, and it has been flowering without a break since then.

The poinsettia has thrived since Christmas, which has been a nice surprise because the store-bought ones often have too underdeveloped root systems and give up the ghost after a month.

And tulips for spring and Easter.

At work I continue to spend a lot of my time on trying to recruit a front-end developer. And I continue to be surprised by how low-quality many of the applications are. It is very easy to be above average in this process because the average is so atrocious. It makes me realize that in any reasonable job market, short of a total collapse in IT spending, I am always going to find a good job, just because I don’t produce crap.

One key part of our recruitment process is a coding task. I normally send it out before booking an interview, because it weeds out the candidates whose technical skills are clearly not sufficient for the job. It takes me less time to judge someone’s code than to do a full interview.

You’d think that in a situation like this, people would send me the absolute best that they can do (within reason). And instead I get crap. Lack of technical skill or experience is one thing, and just means that this is not the right job for them. But lack of care really has no excuse.

Sloppy JavaScript code with missing semicolons. Code that is indented at random and has random blocks of blank lines interspersed here and there. If/else blocks that, upon close reading, turn out to contain identical code, except for whitespace.

Also, not a single candidate has reflected upon the fact that I have many submissions to look through. I would immediately be incline to judge more positively a candidate who named the file with their submission in a way that would help me tell it apart from all the others. Instead they all name them task.zip, reqtest.rar, servicejson.zip, JsonTask.rar, WS.rar, WebServiceApplication.zip, etc.

Rant over.

PS: On the plus side, a few of the candidates have actually hosted their solution on their own server and just sent me a URL, which is a very nice way to avoid the file naming problem completely.

(See also: Interviewing for a developer job at ReQtest.)