Category Archives: Jacob William

No more braces

Jake’s been sporting braces on his teeth for the last two years (more or less; records are spotty). Today, they came off.

And we’re all very happy about that.

We celebrated with a trip to campus for some froyo. I even had a wee dram myself, despite my current dietary restrictions. (I have an appointment with a nutritionist later this week. Will I confess my act of rebellion? Perhaps.)

A few pictures were taken: new construction on campus, the newly-refurbished Alma Mater. They’re over on Flickr.


Poor Mr. Jake.

He’s keen to play a new Xbox game – Red Faction: Guerilla, or some such – and asked me yesterday to buy it for him.

(“For him?” Just so – Jake & Sam have Xbox accounts, from which access to Papa’s credit card is, quite intentionally, not possible.)

I gave him a big lecture on the etiquette of huge downloads over a shared internet connection – “You want things like this to run overnight,” I said. “I’ll start it up tonight, and it will be waiting for you tomorrow morning.”

This morning, Jake wanted to play his new game, and…it wasn’t there, because I had forgotten all about it.

Sorry, Jake.

I bought the game this morning, and the (7GB!) download is running now. It might finish by lunchtime.

(The Xbox active-downloads page also showed Lego Star Wars III, a freebie that I had requested sometime in January. Apparently, it’s been stuck at 43% for the last three months. How did that happen?)

Out & about

Today was a busy day.

Jake had another archery tournament, this time in Danville. The team bus left at 8:00am, so we all had to wake up earlier than usual. (Except Sam, who slept in.)

Sam had an event of his own today: Battle of the Books.

The two overlapped – Jake was shooting at noon, while Sam was taking the stage at 12:30 – so Jennifer & I had to do a bit of juggling. She took Sam to the library, while I went to Danville to watch Jake shoot (and to bring him home afterward).

We’re still waiting for archery results. (Problems with the scoring software? It wouldn’t be the first time.) But Sam’s team won! Their prize: a nice trophy, which will likely end up on display in the school library.

Pictures were taken, but they’re all still in the phone.

Lost and found

Late last year, Jake’s cell phone went missing. We tried calling it; it went straight to voice mail.

“I turned it off,” Jake said.

After two weeks of fruitless searching, we concluded that it had fallen out of his pocket at the movie theater & was gone forever. I terminated Jake’s account, lectured him on being more responsible with his things, and thought no more of it.

This evening, Jennifer & I were in the quilting room, pecking away at our computers, when: bloop-bleep.

“What was that?”

“It came from Jake’s desk.”

It was Jake’s long-lost phone, throwing a low-battery warning after four and a half months. Somehow, it had gotten wedged into Jake’s Nintendo cartridge organizer. (How? After so long, who can say?)

So, mystery solved. Now we have to figure out how to reactivate it.


Ever since Jake told us his phone had gone missing, I’ve been using the account-management page to check the balance on his account. So long as it stayed at $22.04, there was hope that the phone was somewhere in the house.

Tonight’s balance: $7.04. Someone has found Jake’s phone, and apparently decided to keep it instead of return it.

I deactivated the account (and the phone). We have thirty days to re-activate it, either with the original phone (unlikely) or by buying a new one (equally unlikely). If we don’t, Jake will lose his phone number.

Sorry, Jake.

Report card

Jake has finished his first quarter of sixth grade. It’s going fairly well, I think.

This afternoon, Jennifer & I had our first middle-school parent-teacher conference. (Only one teacher attended, even though Jake’s school day involves a half-dozen teachers. I suppose having each of the parents meet with all of the teachers would present certain logistical difficulties.)

We heard glowing reports from all the teachers, and saw a report card with lots of As on it.

System requirements

Jake’s a big fan of first-person shooter games: Portal, Half-Life 2, plus a bunch of military combat games.

These tend to be fairly demanding, hardware-wise, which means most of them run poorly on Jake’s iMac – or. don’t run at all.

The other day, Jake wanted to buy a game called Counter-Strike: Something-or-Other; I checked the system requirements, and said. “It looks ok to me.” So I fired up Steam on my computer, and sent a gift Jake’s way.

Alas, I didn’t check the video-hardware requirements quite closely enough; poor Jake spent hours downloading his game, only to discover that it won’t run.

He was very disappointed.

I have tried to explain that next year’s hardware will always be bigger & faster than this year’s, which means last year’s computers may or may not run this year’s games – and a seven-year-old computer like Jake’s probably won’t run this year’s games – but I’m not getting through to him.

I felt bad for telling Jake the wrong thing, so last night after he & Sam went to bed I bought a second copy of Counter-Strike: Mumblemumble, this time on my computer.

It ought to run there.

6th grade, day two

My strategy today, for ensuring Jake got on the right bus when school let out, was to show up at school and wait with him. (It worked.)

We navigated the impressive chaos – hundreds of students, a few adults, a half-dozen buses – checking whether the right bus was already there (it wasn’t). After a few minutes, the buses pulled out, and things settled down a bit.

Jake’s bus was delayed a bit, by chaos elsewhere in town (today was move-in day at the university), but showed up eventually. Jennifer & Sam were waiting in the van at our stop, so we didn’t have to walk home.

The kids are still getting used to riding the city bus. One of Jake’s friends missed her stop, because she didn’t realize the bus won’t stop unless somebody pulls the yellow cord. (We gave her a ride home.)

Jake says he’s ready to try the ride home solo, tomorrow. He’ll do fine, I’m sure.

On the bus

Today was Jake’s first day of sixth grade. Lots of firsts in play: new school, new schedule, and a new way of getting to school.

In Champaign, only the elementary-school students ride the traditional yellow bus; everybody else rides the MTD. They have special routes, described in very small print in the schedule book so as to keep out the geezers & riff-raff (who sometimes sneak on board anyway).

So, this morning Jake & I walked down to his new bus stop. It went well, though the bus was a bit crowded.

Jake was worried about the ride home. “They’ll tell you which bus to get on,” I said.

I was wrong about that. The school offered no help at all, and poor Mr. Jake ended up on the wrong bus, headed for…Urbana. He wasn’t the only one – two or three other students were with him.

Fortunately for all, the MTD operator brought them back to where they needed to be. (Some other bus went to Urbana instead.) And because Jake has a cell phone now, we knew what was going on and Jennifer was waiting for him when he arrived.

We’re hoping for an easier time of it tomorrow.

Bus ride

Jake, Sam & I went on a bus adventure today.

First, we rode the 190 Plum to Country Fair. The bus was running about ten minutes behind schedule, and the driver was trying very hard to make up the time. (A little too hard, if you ask me. But I managed to stay in my seat.)

The plan was transfer at Country Fair to the 50E Green, and ride that all the way to campus. The online bus tracker said we had a minute or two to spare, but once there it seemed the Green had left without us. (It happens.) We took the 70E Grey instead…and on our way out, we passed the Green, just arriving.


Jake & Sam had brought $2 each, to buy all-day bus passes. We learned that these tend to sell out early – the Plum operator didn’t have any, and said, “You can buy them from the next bus.” The Grey operator said the same thing, so we decided to buy our passes at Illinois Terminal.

We got stuck in line behind a confused woman, who had lost her annual pass. The woman behind the counter tried very hard to explain MTD policy – no replacements, no refunds – but I fear her efforts were unsuccessful. I think there was a bit of a language barrier at work.

After a while, the confused woman wandered (confusedly) away, and Jake & Sam finally got their all-day passes.

We rode the 100S Yellow to campus – somehow, through all of this, we managed to avoid any significant waiting; the buses always arrived just when we wanted them – and walked over to The Beef Stand for lunch. It’s a nice place: a bit like Luke’s, only with more sensible portion sizes.

Lunch was: a pair of cheese hot dogs for Jake & Sam (one each – thanks for asking!) and a Polish combo for me. And fries. Lots of fries. It was all very tasty.

After lunch, we visited the Game Stop across the street. Jake bought himself a game for his computer: Sims 3, or some such. (Alas for Jake, the iMac’s disk is only 750GB. What will he do when he’s filled it up?)

We walked over to the Union, so Sam could play some arcade games; alas, the game room is on summer hours & wasn’t open. (Sorry, Sam.)

The trip home was relatively uneventful. We caught the 50W Green to Country Fair, arriving just in time to transfer to the 190 Plum (with the same operator – poor woman, I fear she spent her whole Saturday driving in circles, trying to get back on schedule); and a few minutes later, we were home.

(Another confused woman – or, perhaps, the same one as before; I didn’t get too close a look at either of them – did ask the Green operator, somewhere near Springfield & Lynn, “How far to the Union?” Um. It was three or four miles ago, ma’am….)

Jake & Sam like to ride the bus. I don’t know why; maybe it’s the novelty of it. Or the quality time with Papa. Either way, I think they had fun.