Monday, November 12, 2018

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

12 pictures of your day on the 12th of every month

6:08 AM: Showered and ready for work.
6:24 AM: Setting up in the satellite home office to mitigate the risk of hungry, loud cats waking up sleeping babies.
8:13 AM: Encroaching wildlife and sad pinwheel.
9:00 AM: Breakfast and the news.
9:58 AM: Back to work in the regular upstairs office.
10:08 AM: Our mime has learned to help clean up by throwing trash away. She has also learned that you can make more trash by tearing up tissues. She is still working on understanding that you cannot make trash by tearing up lift-the-tab books.
12:24 PM: Working lunch (Mexican). There may be more queso than strictly necessary.
3:13 PM: 12 minutes of Zelda between the end of my conference call and the awakening of Maia from her nap.
4:05 PM: Reflections in a mall decoration.
5:36 PM: Self-driven story time on the big rocky chair.
6:48 PM: Baked salmon and broccoli for dinner.
7:24 PM: Giddy and tired.

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Friday, November 09, 2018

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

American Vandal, Season Two:
I figured it would be hard to follow up the "Who Drew the Dicks?" mystery of Season One, but Season Two opens with an unfortunate laxative incident at a preppy private school and seeks to determine who the "Turd Burglar" is in the style of a crime documentary. This season is actually better than the first, and has a satisfying ending that actually raises relevant questions about society. It's more than just turds all the way down.

Final Grade: A

Unguilded by Jane Glatt:
Magic of Thieves made me hesitant to continue reading the Secrets and Spells anthology, but I'm glad I did. Unguilded shares a few of the broad story strokes of the previous story but weaves them together much more effectively. The protagonist is one worth rooting for and the magic system is just different enough from the norm to be intriguing. A few of the villains are rather moustache-twirly, but I enjoyed the world-building and resolution. I added the sequels to my reading list based on the strength of this story.

Final Grade: B

Shake the Spirit by Elle King:
Elle King's second album is good, though a little more swear-y. Her voice is also super-over-sampled throughout as if she sang too close to an awful microphone or just required 800 filters to correct something about her voice. I still prefer the 1st album but this one isn't bad.

Final Grade: B-

Mage's Tale (Oculus Rift):
This is an innovative dungeon-crawler by the team that rebooted The Bard's Tale. It has an initial wow/fun factor as you hurl fireballs and maneuver through a dungeon with a sarcastic imp helping you, but this wears off somewhat quickly. The interface is totally motion-based (for example, the Save / Load / Options menu is navigated by grabbing the "Save" potion and drinking it) which is "neat" for about 5 minutes and then just gets in the way of years of established UX design principles. I ran out of steam about 4 hours in, not helped by the very long load times.

Final Grade: C

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Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Maia Month #16 Battle Report

Maia has made it to 16 months with no loss of limbs or traumatic experiences (apart from getting her chin zipped into her jacket at the cabin). Her favourite food is hummus of any variety, with or without substantial food to spread it on. She knows and can recite the sounds that many animals make, although her favourite is the goat (followed by the fish). Other animals in her repertoire include cats, dogs, cows, chickens, and owls.

Maia walks up to 10 steps at a time before falling to the floor again, but still uses crawling as the most expedient form of traveling. Weekly Tuesday visits from Rebecca's parents and almost-weekly trips to my parent's house (when I can wake Maia before rush hour) are regular parts of her life, and Rebecca also takes her to library storytime, where she plays with all of her boy friends. We lucked out with the weather last week so she got one final week of afternoons at Lake Anne and various playgrounds. The mall visits resume in earnest this week (and she's thrilled with the Christmas decorations oozing out of every mall orifice).

Maia has achieved a new level of engagement this past week, and she's now much better at self-play and just hanging out with adults. We sometimes put her in her nursery down the hall with all the side doors closed and she'll sit there reading her books for 20 - 30 minutes before coming out to find us. I believe we're raising an introvert correctly!

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Monday, November 05, 2018

Weekend Wrap-up

This weekend, we returned to Deer Haven, a getaway cabin in Edinburg, VA, with our friends, Car and Ben. We made it up the steep mountain road just ahead of a monsoon that lingered overnight on Friday.

The cabin was surprisingly baby-resistant without much effort, and Maia enjoyed taking a few solo steps and climbing the stairs. She also enjoyed reading books with Rebecca.

On Saturday, we had pork shoulder tacos, cookies, chips n' queso, and shells n' cheese, followed by s'mores in the fireplace.

On Sunday night, we had chickpea chicken something-or-other, and also managed to set off the smoke detector with our fire (somehow Maia slept through it).

We did not manage to finish the puzzle this year (brought from home to avoid the puzzles with missing pieces at the cabin) because the whole top half was grey and blue and not particularly fun. Maia learned how to play 104-pickup though.

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Friday, November 02, 2018

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

I've noticed that my grading has gotten slightly harder since Maia was born. Time is money, friend!

Art of Doubt by Metric:
In their latest album, Metric moves away from the padded electronica sound of Pagans in Vegas and back to a more garage rock sound. The songs are still fun, but a bit more repetitive, and nothing stands up as a catchy hit.

Final Grade: B-

Greatest Showman (PG):
The success of a musical effort like this really depends on the actors investing in their roles 110%. Led by Hugh Jackman, the energy level remains high throughout. The opening montage is the weakest part, and the overarching movie doesn't leave you with much to hang your hat on in the end, but this is about as successful a movie as you can come up with, within the constraints of the format and the PG rating. It reminds me of something I would have wanted to watch on VHS in grade school on a sick day.

Final Grade: B-

Sinner, Season One:
I enjoyed the pilot of this top-rated show about a woman who unequivocally commits murder in front of many witnesses without any clear motive. While I appreciated the style, it seemed like it would be relentlessly grim and involve religion and child abuse in some way, so I decided to devote my limited free time to collecting a bunch of harmless cartoon moons in Super Mario Odyssey instead.

Final Grade: Not Rated

Fargo, Season Three:
Fargo continues its successful blend of high-quality cinematography, mysticism, and Midwestern charm, and Ewan MacGregor managed to avoid being a distraction in his double role as twin brothers. This was my least favourite season of the three so far, but I would still take all three to the hypothetical castaway island with nothing but a DVD player.

Final Grade: A-

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