Nanowrimo 2020: Crossed the Line

It’s been a weird year, but if I was going to identify a silver lining, this was the easiest Nanowrimo to participate in for years. In years past, my work travel has been increasing, and in some years there were lots of karate classes to take Miranda to. There were plenty of evenings in hotel rooms or sitting in the car writing.

This year, I was home every day and could choose where and how to write. There were still some days that were hard to write: BCC Zwift rides have started early this year, so three nights per week I was riding to eight and then a shower and calling Dad before writing started. And you can’t write every day for a month without having days that you don’t feel like it. Having different ways to write helps a lot. Three different typewriters provide some variety, and there was one day on my MacBook and three days on an iPad: first one was my old iPad and two on the new.

But no matter the method, the words are written and I’ve moved the story forward. I won’t type “The End” before the end of the month, but that’s pretty normal for me.

Tammy’s still got some typing to do to make it to 50,000, but I’m confident she will make it.

Updated Dec. 1

Yes, Tammy crossed the line and I kept going all the way to November 30. I was putting stuff away today and was rearranging my binders of typewritten novels. I thought this was pretty impressive:

This represents one ongoing story that I’ve been working on since 2013. (and technically based on an idea that I first wrote in 1992) Right to left:

  • Green binder: 2013 wrote a story that raised a lot of questions for me
  • Red binder: 2015 (and Camp Nanowrimo 2016) started writing a backstory
  • Blue binder: 2016 continued writing backstory
  • White binder: 2017 and 2018 continued writing backstory
  • Yellow binder: 2019 re-wrote the 2015 story now that I had the answers
  • White binder: 2020 continued writing the story.

One of the cool things about writing on typewriters is you get these massive reams of hard copy instead of a few innocuous files tucked away in a folder on a hard drive.


And Then the Schools Closed Again

We just found out now that along with a lot of other things, the schools will be closing again, starting next Monday.

The kids will be learning remotely for three weeks, then off for three and returning to in-person learning (probably) on January 11th.


  • Thank goodness for having enough computers. 😉
  • I hope this won’t disrupt Miranda’s IB too much.
  • Ian had been doing so well this year. The teachers were very complimentary of him when we had our short parent-teacher conference last week.
  • I’m still working from home, and Tammy’s teaching from home. No change there.
  • No real restrictions on grocery stores or other stores.
  • We don’t have friends and family so no worries about getting a $1000 fine. 😆

Ian’s New Bike

I got the email from Kurt yesterday:

Bike is in the house homie. When did you want to swing by?

Meaning, of course that Ian’s new bike was in. We ordered it a month ago. At first, I thought it had to be way too big for him, but he hopped on it and… nope, it’s the right size. Kid’s growing up.

There’s so much snow and ice around, so here he is, riding it around the driveway.

He’ll wear out the right side of the tires if he keeps going round and round

It will be a long winter waiting for riding season to come again, I’m afraid. At Ian’s suggestion, we put his old bike next to the new one to see the size difference.

The new bike is a Kona Fire Mountain, size Medium. 27.5″ wheels. Really looks like it will be fun to ride.


Just a note to say I saw a coyote on my walk this morning before work. It was on the same bit of pathway that Tammy saw her moose a while back, between the train station and the bridge over Stony Trail. I was walking south, and it was only pre-dawn. I saw a dog, which isn’t unusual along that path. I didn’t see its owner at first, which is also not unusual given the long, retractable dog leashes some owners use. But it only took a second to realize that there was no owner. I slowed and the dog looked at me (about 50 meters away) and then turned and went into the brush. It was when I could see the dog in profile that I realized that it was a coyote. I waited a while and then cautiously continued my walk. I didn’t see it again. I figure it just wanted to be left alone.


Well, that didn’t last

As I posted yesterday, my iPad’s reign as the fastest computer in the house lasted just under 51 hours. Tammy’s M1-based MacBook Air came by UPS around 3 o’clock this afternoon.

Ready for unboxing

Tammy has been very patient. Either that or I’ve been persuasive. Either way, when she started teaching from home full time in the spring, her 2014 MacBook Air was pressed into the hardest service of its career. She was videoconferencing on Microsoft Teams, organizing class materials in OneDrive and all manner of marking and other stuff. But she was willing to wait for the new MacBook Air, that Apple announced last week, with the Apple M1 chip instead of Intel inside.

It’s the base model, but even so, it’s a screamer.

Tammy’s new MacBook at the far right. My work MacBook Pro is “Claris”.
Updated to include graphics benchmark. M1 in full-on beast mode

It took a bit to transfer her content with the Migration Assistant, but it’s done now and she’s all set up for her novelling tonight and for work tomorrow.

Ooh, it’s gold

Ready for another six or seven years, I figure. 😜


The early review is in. Tammy’s comment after novelling last night: “it makes my wrists cold”. She rests her wrists on the MacBook as she types, and since the chip inside stays cool, the aluminum doesn’t warm up. You heard it here first, folks. Don’t buy this laptop.


Further Update

We did a quick webcam test today. The webcam on the new MacBook Airs is still, in the words of Rene Ritchie, “A Potato”, but a 2020 potato is better than a 2013 potato.

Top, L-R: My iPad Air, Tammy’s new MacBook. Bottom L-R: Tammy’s old MacBook, my MacBook.

I think the webcam’s quite a bit better. Her students thought so, too.

New iPad

In September, Apple announced the 8th generation iPad and iPad Air 4 models at the first of their Fall 2020 events.

I have had my iPad Pro 9.7″ for almost four years. In 2018 I lusted after the new iPad Pro models, but I couldn’t justify it. In 2019, I almost pulled the trigger on replacing it with the previous iPad Air 3, but I had just found the right keyboard for my old Pro: the Logitech Create. Even though the battery was starting to weaken and the old iPad Pro was feeling slow I was so happy with the new keyboard that I put it off again. COVID and work from home probably also extended its life (more on that below).

But when I saw the iPad Air 4, I knew that was the next iPad. Unfortunately, Apple saw fit to delay the release until mid-October and by that time I’d had lots of time to think about it and stew over whether or not they would release a new iPad Pro before the end of 2020. I waited for the reviews and they were awesome. Everything was aligning, but it never felt urgent. Not the same way that Tammy’s MacBook Air replacement is or even the Mac mini replacement is. Part of the reason it felt less urgent was that the battery weakness that would have been critical under normal conditions (like going to client offices and doing workshops without a plugin) weren’t so bad at home where I could plug in. And since I’m at home about 99% of the time right now…

With Tammy’s MacBook arriving tomorrow, I felt that the time for dithering was over and I pulled the trigger. This iPad will have about 48 hours of being the fastest computer in the house before the MacBook Air takes the title. It’s a Sky Blue iPad Air 4 with 256 GB of storage. I bought the Pencil 2 and the Magic Keyboard as well.

The Apple Store shopping experience was COVID-normal. I could have ordered it ahead of time for pickup and shortened the experience, but I wanted to do one last look to compare the Air 4 with the iPad Pro 11 inch. So I got in the line for screening, got my COVID quiz and temperature check and then I got in the shopping line. When a salesperson was available (Tim, no relation to Tim) we walked over to the table where they had all of the iPad models on display. I was allowed to poke and prod them, but when I was done I was asked to flip them over so Tim would know which ones he had to sanitize when I left. I did my testing and made my mind up and at the same time Tim started the Trade In process for my old iPad Pro. I ended up getting the full trade-in value: $220 which I immediately applied to the cost of my purchases. I also applied for the Esri Canada iPad Program when I got home, so that will be an extra $200 back in my pocket. Thanks, Esri! It still ended up being pricey:

  • iPad: $979
  • Pencil: $169
  • Magic Keyboard: $399
  • AppleCare: $79

It’s easiest to think of it as a touchscreen convertible laptop, but it’s still expensive. But then, I will probably use this every day for the next four years like my iPad Pro. Here’s to the next four years! 🍻

And one last thing: the iPad Air 4 vs. the 2020 iPad Pro 11 inch. This was the thing that I dithered about the most. Why? Do a search for “iPad Air 4 vs. iPad Pro” and you’ll get hundreds of YouTube videos.

With the update of the Air to include a lot of the features of the Pro, and the fact that the price difference was less than $100 between them, the comparison was inevitable. There were tradeoffs that boiled down to:

  • The iPad Pro had the really nice things: 120 Hz display refresh, 4 speakers, LiDAR and FaceID
  • The iPad Air had the 2-year newer processor: A14 vs. the A12Z.

I will not deny that I wanted the nice things, and in the side-by-side comparison at the Apple Store of the ProMotion display vs. the Air’s 60 Hz display was compelling. But four years from now, the A14 will be a four year old chip design and the A12X will be six years old. It was faster and more future-proof. Time will tell if I am happy with that decision. Right now, I’m finding the TouchID (built into the power button) somewhat annoying, even compared to the old TouchID button on my Pro. We’ll see.

It’s the little things…

Haven’t had much to write about. Trying to navigate through life as usual. Started my return to work. The one thing I missed working so early in the morning is sometimes the spectacular sunrise/sets. Caught this sunrise this morning

Christmas Lights Are Up

The snow that we had in October melted away (as hoped!) but looks like this weekend might bring Round Two. And in November, there’s decent odds that it will stick around. So I got the lead out and put up the Christmas lights this afternoon. Same display as usual: three strings of red, green and white.

It’s nippy out there. 2 degrees. My fingers were numb getting the clips on to the gutters.

Nanowrimo 2020 is Underway

In fact, we’re already on day four. But with Miranda’s Inktober post and the Lynx family post, I thought there was enough new stuff on the ii News. You have to pace yourself, you know.

Tammy and I are writing again. I’m on my typewriters and she’s on her MacBook Air as usual. Although it is interesting that she complained to me the other night about being on the computer all day and then a couple more hours each night.

Why do you think I use typewriters, dear? It changes things up.

So far so good, but work is really busy for both of us right now. Not a lot of extra energy in the evenings at the moment. The new all-in-one printer/scanner has an automatic document feeder, which is just aces for my typewritten pages. It used to take me a lot longer to scan and OCR my pages each night. Now it’s super fast.

Tammy might have a new computer soon. She got her MacBook as a birthday present back in 2014. With her using it all day every day for work, it’s been showing its age somewhat. I’ve been convincing her to hold off getting a new one because Apple’s new Apple Silicon-based MacBooks are strongly rumored to be released next week. I sure hope they are, because I think her patience is wearing thin. 😁

She’ll be zooming through her novel in no time flat! 📕💨

Lynx Family

We’ve had a lynx, or two, come through our yard over the year, but today was something special. It all started with Simon saying that the hot tub house woman was taking a picture of the Hawthorne tree (in our next door neighbour’s yard) and the another neighbour out back was hustling to and fro. I couldn’t see a thing from our bedroom, but it turned out a mom and two baby lynxes were snoozing under our spruce tree out back. One of the kittens decided to meand around our front garden. (Murph saw this one as he was enjoying the front door being open. It was a high of 16 degrees today!) The other kitten decided to come onto our deck and Murph screamed blue murder. You should’ve seen his poofy tail!

Once it got dark the mom skulked off in search of food and a little later the kittens followed her (but not before they chased each other through the leaves in our back yard).

Here are some pics.