Friday, October 20, 2017

Maia Week #15 Battle Report

Maia is now 15 weeks old, having finally crossed the 13 pound line and once again entered a competitive quartile in the American Ninja Fattening competition. She has discovered her feet and excels at tummy time, consistently holding her head up for longer than an alcoholic hobo on his 12th Steel Reserve.

She still only naps for 30 minutes at a time during the day, but this is counterbalanced by 10 to 11 hour night stretches where she only wakes up once to feed (our longest record night went from midnight to 11:30 AM with a 45 minute feed in the middle). Since it can take up to 45 minutes to get her to nap, it's usually much easier and more efficient to just pop her into the front kangaroo pouch and dance to Funk Jazz until she passes out.

The hardest part at the moment is coming up with enough activities to keep her occupied for the long stretches between naps. Any given activity keeps her happy for up to 10 minutes but there are a limited number of activities to try, especially as it gets colder. This leads to cheat activities like "Look how different Boring Felt Owl looks when I rotate you 90 degrees underneath him!"

One constant that remains worthwhile is nature hiking in Claude Moore Park which is a 5 minute drive away and eats up an hour out of the day. Maia gains superhuman neck strength from looking up into all of the trees and can eventually enjoy the deer, cows, squirrels, and chipmunks. I travel at a slow enough pace that she can nap and listen to the nearby high school marching band play the same 4 bars of Danse Macabre for the 80th time. Sometimes Maia goes twice in a day, once with Rebecca in the morning and once with me when I come on duty after work. Part-time work is going great as well -- this week I wrote a 6 page article about data analytics and cloud architecture then turned off the computer and played "Eat the Toucan's Nose" with Maia.

tagged as offspring, day-to-day | permalink | 1 comment

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Review Day: Destiny's Conflict by Janny Wurts

There are no spoilers in this review, which is also posted on Amazon.

It has been 22 years since I discovered Curse of the Mistwraith, the first book in the epic Wars of Light and Shadow series that has since become my favourite fantasy series of all time. I discovered Janny Wurts through her collaboration on the Empire trilogy, where I felt that she breathed true emotion, political intrigue, and character development into an otherwise cookie-cutter, two-dimensional universe. Since then, the WoLaS series has invaded my bookshelf like a pleasant plague in triplicate, with hardcovers for armchair reading, paperbacks for loaning, and Kindle copies for rereading the whole series without spraining a muscle.

In my earlier reviews, I used to warn new readers that the prose was challenging -- a unique style full of memorable turns of phrase and Scrabble winners. With 10 books under my belt, I would like to revise my warning in a more positive light: this is a series that is intricately and intentionally designed to reward you for your investment and patience. In the Netflix age where everyone is proud of bingeing content as quickly as possible (only to immediately forget what happened when the next season rolls around), the WoLaS series is one that rewards any reader who can stop and savour the onion-layered prose methodically without speed skimming. As the series progresses, the author continues to paint new context onto seemingly straightforward events from the previous books, deepening and unfolding the world into beautiful complexity, rather than needlessly prolonging the story to infinity with pointless filler plots or deus ex machina devices.

Destiny's Conflict is the second and final part of Arc IV, Sword of the Canon. Each Arc is a self-contained story that may span multiple volumes due to the physical limitation on the size of a bound book. (Because of this separation, reviewers tend to rate the early volumes in an Arc lower when they don't realize that the true climax of the Arc has not yet happened). At a minimum, you should read the first part of Arc IV, Initiate's Trial, before diving in, but of course, the story will be more impactful if you have followed the yarn from the very beginning of Arc I.

I rated Initiate's Trial with 4 stars when I first read it, but with Destiny's Conflict finally available, I would rate the Arc as a whole with 5 well-deserved stars. Destiny's Conflict is a constant stream of climactic events, with the trail of plot dominoes painstakingly set up in Initiate's Trial (and earlier books) satisfyingly toppled in ways that are simultaneously surprising yet clearly choreographed from the beginning. As a vague non-spoilery example, there was a distracting scene in Peril's Gate that I always felt was superfluous to the story which becomes a key facet of Arithon's actions against the Koriathain here.

The plot in Destiny's Conflict constantly moves forward, with critical events happening in every chapter -- the pace will definitely satisfy readers who felt that Arc III moved a little too slowly. The action decelerates a few times for some heavy backstory (in sections I have facetiously branded as "Arithon and Elaira go to the library"), but for fans who have kept up with the story from the beginning, these sections are chock full of the powerful context needed to better appreciate the earlier Arcs.

Please note that my rating and review here are based on my first, fast devouring of the book. As such, I'm absolutely positive that I have not digested every single nuance of the story, especially in the layered conversations that often seem to fill the negative space around the intended point without making it explicit, leaving you room to draw your own interpretations. My subsequent readings will surely highlight the bits I missed the first time around, increasing my appreciation for the book and the series as a whole.

And that, I believe, is the whole point.

For Reference:

  • Arc I: Curse of the Mistwraith (1 binding)
  • Arc II: Ships of Merior (2 books: Ships of Merior / Warhost of Vastmark)
  • Arc III: Alliance of the Light (5 books: Fugitive Prince / Grand Conspiracy / Peril's Gate / Traitor's Knot / Stormed Fortress)
  • Arc IV: Sword of the Canon (2 books: Initiate's Trial / Destiny's Conflict)
  • Arc V: Song of the Mysteries (1 binding, to be written)

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Monday, October 16, 2017

Weekend Wrap-up

On Friday the 13th in the afternoon, the Uri grandparents came over for a round of babysitting while Rebecca and I flitted off to the wedding of Anya and Matthew in Leesburg. It was a fun, classy affair at the Rust Manor House, with passed hor d'oeuvres and a s'mores construction kit as a wedding favor.

On Saturday morning, we caught the final few minutes of the Reston Farmer's Market (so Rebecca could get her fresh nitrogen-infused ice cream) and then walked the trails of Reston until mid-afternoon. The evening was bath time for Maia, to ensure that no mushrooms were growing in the shade of her neck folds.

On Sunday, I got a little work done in the morning while Rebecca made it to a yoga class. In the afternoon, she and Maia went off to a cousin's wedding shower while I stayed home and took a much-needed nap, followed by up to 3 games of Overwatch (which I hadn't played in over a week!)

How was your weekend?

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 0 comments

Friday, October 13, 2017

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

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

7:46 AM: Treadmill time while refreshing my memory on season four of Orphan Black.
8:28 AM: Showered and ready for the day.
8:38 AM: Buttermilk Eggos for breakfast.
11:05 AM: Cleaning the house while no children or mothers are underfoot.
11:40 AM: Maia returns from a brisk nature hike with Rebecca.
12:25 PM: Story time.
12:29 PM: Working lunch.
1:32 PM: Using my powers of persuasion to elicit a nap.
3:19 PM: Bottle service.
4:40 PM: Second nature hike of the day for Maia.
6:16 PM: Post-bottle milk coma.
8:00 PM: Preparing suffed peppers for dinner (pre-fab from Costco).

tagged as 12 of 12 | permalink | 0 comments

 

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