These are the ramblings of a young married couple in the great City of Chicago.

ERMA Koans Part 1

Tuesday, 29 October 2013 by Jacob Tomaw

I am the maintainer of this little library open sourced by Orbitz called ERMA. It started life as the Extremely Reusable Monitoring API that allowed us to get our monitoring data out of our Java apps and into Graphite as graphs. However it is really a way of getting any data out of your application and processing it or sending it any way you want to. The goal of ERMA is to make this easy, extremely easy! And the plumbing will be extremely low impact on your application.

I think ERMA is a powerful library that more projects could benefit from. However adoption is hampered by poor documentation that I have struggled to make compelling and easy to follow. It is not because ERMA is complicated, but because it is a little complex. Each part is east to learn, but you have to know so much to see results.

I have started to make some simplified defaults that will allow for faster feedback and gratification from the beginning. I am also exploring wring Koans that will allow users to learn quickly about the capabilities of ERMA. A koan is a question that teaches or a meditation point to help a Buddhist disciples to follow the path to enlightenment. It has been adapted as a technique to teach programming languages and concepts to novices. With the Koan focus on learning little parts one at a time, I think it may be well suited for teaching ERMA.

I have started this project to begin exploring how this can be done. I think the biggest challenge is understanding what others don’t know and what should be taught first.

Java Koans looks like a promising place to start.

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Pops and the children

Tuesday, 31 August 2010 by Joscelynn Tomaw

Olivia's not too sure about this arrangement.

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Wednesday, 25 August 2010 by Joscelynn Tomaw

Olivia Elizabeth Tomaw is two and a half weeks old and, as I sit here with a nearly eight pound lump of sleeping love on my chest, I have a moment to recap the events of the last few weeks for you.

Saturday, August 7th, I began having moderate contractions at our annual neighborhood block party. I’d had episodes of similar contractions on and off for weeks, each fizzling out with some rest and hydration. Just the day before I had been to the midwife, who told me I showed no signs of imminent labor, and since Jonah had been forcibly removed at nearly a week past his due date, I was certain I had at least until the middle of the week to prepare for the birth. A couple of hours in the contractions became strong enough that I decided to go into the house to rest. I quickly sought relief in the bathtub and shower. They only came faster. I was still unconvinced that this was the day of reckoning, but put our reinforcements on notice anyway. By 11:00 p.m. all I could do was wail and dry heave vocalize through each contraction, so, still very skeptical, we decided to head to the hospital.

Before Jonah’s delivery Jacob and I made one false alarm trip to the hospital in the middle of the night and judging even by the security staff’s reactions, I could tell that this was a whole different game. I rolled out of the car and waddled as best I could into check-in. Heads nodded, door were opened for me and no time was wasted getting me into triage. The triage nurse checked my progress and asked about the results of my last check-up. When I told her that the day before I had been one centimeter dilated and not at all effaced, she told me that she didn’t think much had changed, but that since I’d had a prior c-section and was in so much pain, she didn’t think they would send me home. I cried tears of desperation, thinking I was either the biggest wimp ever to birth a baby or something was horribly wrong with my body and they’d usher me right in for the repeat c-section I wanted to avoid. When my midwife arrived a few minutes later, she checked my progress again and said that I was actually four centimeters dilated, 100% effaced and the baby’s head was low. Ta-da! That’s labor!

The next ten hours I worked with Jacob, my midwife and a delivery nurse on the most difficult and miraculous project of my life. I am so fortunate to have been so well supported during Olivia’s birth. Everything was very calm and I knew I was in good hands. At 11:08 a.m., after an hour and a half of pushing, Olivia came kicking into the world. I know women around the world give birth every day and many did right along with me, but wow. The feeling is indescribable and that tiny new face is the most beautiful thing in the world.

Our return home has gone very smoothly. Olivia is a calm and still very sleepy little girl. Jacob took a two week paternity leave and so Jonah, Olivia and I are just beginning to settle into a daytime routine. The most difficult thing about bringing home a new baby has been adjusting to a new understanding of Jonah. Nobody prepared us for the feeling that as we brought home our new baby girl we would lose our baby boy. After spending a few days cuddling a seven pound baby, wrapping our arms around a 30 pound boy is a completely different proposition. We had been quite comfortable with Jonah’s progress toward potty training until we started changing infant diapers again, then suddenly his felt like big man diapers and we found ourselves a little frustrated. But we have regained our balance and we’ve also seen Jonah embrace his new role as “big boy” in some delightful ways. The two week recovery period during which I was prohibited from lifting Jonah made him more physically independent and I now frequently hear him tell me very excitedly that he can do things all by himself.

I cannot imagine how our family dynamics will change over the next few months. We are so happy to have our little girl. Thank you friends and family for your support. You’re an important part of our children’s lives too.

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Hello out there! Does anyone still read this blog?

Wednesday, 4 August 2010 by Joscelynn Tomaw

Hello few and faithful readers. I know our blog has been comatose for the last few months, but the Tomaw family has been quite busy and this pregnant mom has been tired. However, we are in a season of change here and so I’m writing this post as much out of catharsis as a hope that I can draw you back to our blog. So in no particular order, here are the ch-ch-ch-changes. . .

I have left my job at Morningstar. When Jonah was born, I really enjoyed spending a full year bonding with and nursing him without the added stress of full-time employment, so I am looking forward to having that kind of time with the new baby, due any day now. It also happens to be in our financial best interest for me to stay home with two, so that made the decision relatively easy. My plan is to spend the time (that is the time not consumed by infant care and potty-training Jonah) working on some finance-oriented freelance writing and editing. I will miss Morningstar and my co-workers there terribly. I hope some day they will take me back, but for now it’s diaper changing and afternoons at the park for me.

Jacob is now managing his team at Orbitz. I am exceedingly proud of my husband. I think he will tell you that he now looks forward to far more meetings than he used to, but he enjoys his work and continues to be somewhat surprised that it is so valued. His career has advanced at quite a clip in the five years since we were engaged and his God-given talent and honest dedication to work and family is to thank for that.

We have decided to leave The First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple and join St. John’s Lutheran Church near our neighborhood on the north side of the city. I know to some this will sound about as life-changing as if we switched mechanics, but this was an extremely difficult decision and in some ways still weighs on me the most. The Temple has been an integral part of our lives over the last five years and we have made some great friends that have been like family to us. The discussions we’ve had with educated and thoughtful peers at The Temple helped us form evermore concrete ideas about our faith and its role in our family life. As we promised at Jonah’s baptism to nurture him in the Christian faith, it became imperative for us to ensure that we were providing him a clear direction and absolute certainty in his salvation by Grace. We are blessed to have now found this at St. John’s and while we hope to maintain the relationships we have established at The Temple and continue as brothers and sisters in Christ with its congregants, we also look forward to our new beginning as Confessional Lutherans.

Oh yes, and the biggest change yet to come will be the birth of our daughter. It’s not that this event is not top-of-mind, but all of the preceding changes have been in preparation for her arrival. We can hardly wait to see her and touch her for the first time and we ask for your prayers in this event above all the others.

And now back to the waiting. . .

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The Monster Unleashed

Thursday, 29 April 2010 by Jacob Tomaw

I keep hearing and reading things in the news that make me think of something worth blogging about. Unfortunately on my vocation list blogging comes after two items that have grown in effort.

Jonah is very in tune with nature when it comes to sleeping. As we go through spring and into summer he starts to wake earlier and earlier. This week he has woke up at 5 (when Jos and I awake) twice and not long after 6 twice. This means some of my chores and blogging time in the morning is reduced so I can practice the more important vocation of father.

Just below father is the vocation of worker. While my official title is still “Sr. Software Engineer”, my Team Lead moved to a different role at the beginning of April, and I have been serving as acting Team Lead.

When my former boss suggested I apply for his position, I was a little apprehensive. I really enjoy writing code. It is a great artistic outlet for me. I knew that while not all manager become crazy pointy haired bosses, they definitely loose the ability to code.

I have to revised this analysis some now. I still have the ability, but I have significantly less time. Even just as the acting boss, there is a lot of time taken up with managerial task. Also my other team members are relatively new to the team, so I also serve as mentor. I still feel like I am productive, but it cannot be measured in lines of code.

I do hope to find a little bit of time, for now here is the Jonah-Monster.

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Sunday morning dialogue with the Tomaw

Sunday, 25 April 2010 by Joscelynn Tomaw

Jonah removes a section of track from his train set and is then upset that the track does not connect. Jacob shows Jonah that he has the piece he needs to fix it. Jonah replaces the missing piece.

Jacob: “That was a great make work project that you just did, Jonah. Did anybody benefit from that?”

Jonah looking very guilty drops his head a little and sheepishly says “No.”

We are odd balls.

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Watch Out Will Shortz

Friday, 16 April 2010 by Jacob Tomaw

This video is from a few months ago, when it was still dark after dinner. Jonah got so good at his puzzles that we started doing them all at the same time.

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Glory Glory

Thursday, 8 April 2010 by Jacob Tomaw

Jonah is developing his musical abilities.  He and Jos go to music class every week where they sing and dance.  He picks up new songs quickly.

Over the Easter weekend Jonah heard the Battle Hymn of the Republic once.  On Monday he could not stop singing it.

Bonus: Here you can also see how self-congratulatory he can be.  He often tells us “I did it!” and claps.

Update: I just wanted to share the story of how Jonah came to the Battle Hymn of the Republic. In the car on our way to Minnesota we were listening to a Bluegrass Pandora station and heard “I’ll Fly Away.” We love this song, so we sang it a few more times. The next morning, Jonah climbed into bed with us and started singing “Fly away, Lori! Fly away, Lori!” Confused about who “Lori” might be and what he could be singing, we just smiled. Then I got it! He was singing “I’ll fly away, Oh Glory.” After teaching him the right words, Jonah was hooked on the word “Glory” for the weekend. Then on Easter morning, I taught him “Halelujah” which was also a hit, so hearing him walk around the house saying “Glory” and “Halelujah” brought to mind The Battle Hymn of the Republic. I broke out a few stanzas of that and on Monday, I came home to what you see above.

I have been singing to Jonah prety much non-stop since he was born. (Not that I’m any good or anything, It’s kind of a benign OCD thing on my part.) It’s a lot of fun to hear him start to pick up songs. He does a pretty decent job of matching tones, too. ~Joscelynn

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Hymnbloging UMH#547

Tuesday, 9 March 2010 by Jacob Tomaw

This Sunday we sang a hymn that struck me.  The title is “O Church of God, United”.  This hymn proclaims the truth of the One Church and the One Faith.  It also encourages Christians to confidently proclaim the Church, Faith, and Gospel.  Unfortunately, while there is one Church, my church-body, the UMC, seems to have a strangle hold on the copyright for the lyrics, and i cannot find them online.  The next time you are in a UMC I suggest you turn to #547 and give it a read.

This was the Opening Hymn for worship that lead to a Sermon titled “A Family of Acceptance” on the topic of Holy Conferencing.  Holy Conferencing is the principle that lead Wesley to create groupings of Christians below the gathering together for word and sacrament.  He created class meeting and band meetings.  The purpose of these groups were to help shore up the foundation of Christians to help prevent them from backsliding.  This was not more law or special revelation, but it is the pragmatic experience of Wesley on how to bring those given the Faith into the Church United and not have them lost on their own.

Since learning about this concept several years ago, I have thought it was essential to the whole Wesleyan Method that Methodism is supposed to be.  However when Bishops Coke and Asbury landed in Baltimore, they seem to have forgotten this part of the system, and I have never been in a UMC church that practices this in any way, discounting Sunday School.  The Chicago Temple is trying to find ways of bringing this back.  The Tomaws hope to be involved in this, and I hope this will lead to more blogging on the topic.

This all being said, I think it was a fine sermon.  I am still trying to figure out what a sermon is supposed to be.  The Methodist gathered at the Temple on Sunday learned more about Methodism, the liturgy was read, and the Lord’s Supper was served.  Outside of Absolution, I am not sure any non-believers heard about the freely given forgiveness of sins.  This is what my intuition tells me a sermon should be.

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Latest Stats

Monday, 1 March 2010 by Jacob Tomaw

Last week, Jonah had his 2-yr check-up.  It was 3 months late because, even though the staff at the doctor’s office will make you feel guilty for not calling 6-mo early to schedule an appointment, the doctor’s office does not remind you to setup an appointment.

Here are his updated stats:

  • Weight: 27lb 14oz, 36th %tile
  • Height: 34in, 21st %tile
  • Head Circumference: 20in, 88th %tile

These are all consistant with where Jonah’s growth has been all along.  He continues to be our hearty, big headed boy.

The doctor was impressed with is development.  I take this with a grain of salt because every parent seems to report that.  The doctor was also impressed that Jonah just let her examine him with no struggles.

He only needed one immunization this visit.  He is now immune to H1N1 after having a booster.  We had the option of the mist or shot and chose the mist.  Jonah took it without crying and with a sense of curiosity.

No more visits until he is 3.  I think we will be in and out of the doctor’s office enough this fall to remember to schedule the 3-yr check-up.

Aside from physical growth, Jonah is developing very well.

He has started talking in complete sentences.  He has also started to use transitive verbs, however the direct object is usually just “it”.  He is picking up the names of things that we do not directly teach him.  For instance, he knows what my and Joscelynn’s real names are.  We have stopped responding when he says them though.

The puzzles we have are old hat now.  Trains continue to be a big hit.  He can sit down and leaf through a picture book and entertain himself for a while.  He has also taken to drawing.  He can draw a straight line, although his works are generally very abstract.  Simple shapes, like circle, triangle, square, star, and cross, are mostly conquered.

“Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”, “Do Re Mi” and “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” are probably his favorite songs and knows the opening bars.

It is not reading, but he can identify J-O-N-A-H as his name and I think M-O-M-M-Y and D-A-D-D-Y are not long behind.  We sing the alphabet when we wash hands and he will mouth the words, but he does not know the alphabet yet.

He also seems to be trying to anticipate which number we are going to say when counting, but he still has a logarithmic mind and has not been conditioned to our linear world yet.  When I ask how many vitamins he gets before bed, he always says “six”.  I say “No, how man do you get?” He says “twelve” and then I coax him to “two”.

Colors are the last area we are focusing on right now.  When asked what color something is he often defaults to “green”.  That has a 1 in 10 chance of being right most of the time, so perhaps he is playing the odds.  However, list night he asked for his brown PJs and was able to correctly names the colors of the dinosaurs.  He needed just a little help with blue which he calls black sometimes, which I think is just because they sound alike.

One last thing.  Jonah loves to help.  We give him all kinds of different tasks to do around the house.  He really likes to help cook.  Every night, he helps Jos in what ever way she can find to include him.  She told me last week when I was going to be late coming home that he did not understand why she was starting dinner late and pushed his stool to the counter to get her to start.

I could go on with a lot of other little things he likes to do, but I don’t think I would ever stop.

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