Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (PG-13):
This one-off Star Wars movie (which fits plotwise in between Episode 3 and 4) takes a little while to get rolling (the first hour or so is character introduction), but it's otherwise reasonably watchable. The final battle scenes drag on a bit long, but the main characters are fun to watch and none of them are Jar-Jar levels of irritating. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B-

Ozark, Season One:
This show starring Jason Bateman as a financial advisor in trouble with a Mexican drug cartel is never bad, but overall, it just feels unnecessary. It maintains a nice, brooding tone that rarely lightens up, but it also stands in the massive culture shadow of Breaking Bad, a show which it actually has very little in common with, but which people can't help but to compare it to. A late season episode functions as a useful flashback episode, but does all sorts of weird chronology jumps for no other reason besides "style points", like J.J. Abrams with a brain tumor flashing back 48 hours while skipping through time on a mysterious island. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B-

iZombie, Season Three:
As in season two, there's about 10% too many parallel plots going on in this season, but the net effect is very enjoyable. There were plenty of callbacks to old characters and plotlines, but I just let myself go along for the ride and found all of the threads nicely organized and resolved by the end. This was a very good season with a nice 4400-esque plot twist to set up the next season. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: A-

Goliath, Season One:
This Amazon Original started strong with interesting characters and a nice style, but gradually peters out like a guy named Peter running a mile with weights around his ankles. The courtroom drama portions of the story are disappointing, and the final decision in the case doesn't feel earned, based on the work and evidence presented in earlier episodes. Free on Amazon Prime.

Final Grade: C-

tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments

Monday, August 21, 2017

Booty Day

Booty the cat was born on October 25, 2002 and adopted by me at a Tallahassee adoption fair in March 2003. As a half-Siamese mutt, she had giant ears and a night-splitting wail, and loved to do tricks like climbing up window screens or playing fetch with a piece of string.

After I graduated from grad school and moved back to Virginia, she joined forces with Kitty, who taught her important life lessons like how to be fat.

In 2004, she became the Master of the House at Hanford Court, tolerating her housemate, Amber, while hating an endless train of temporary cats, including Leia, Oliver, Kitty, Sydney, Lake, Titan, and Sydney again. She also didn't much care for babies unless they were old enough to feed her.

She took to Rebecca pretty quickly, which is good because I ended up marrying her. Rebecca enjoyed falling asleep on the couch, as did Booty, and the two of them bonded over this shared hobby.

Besides eating, looking forward to eating, or digesting after having eaten, Booty's favourite activity was to join someone in a nap on the couch, getting up close and personal, forcing air out of their lungs like a feral paperweight, and purring loudly in their face.

This past spring, Booty started having a sporadic pain in her jaw that would cause her to suddenly jump up from a pose of repose and run around smacking her lips. By the time we had gotten back from the hospital with Maia, it had blossomed into a large bony mass giving her the appearance of Jay Leno. $800 worth of tests later, we learned that (a) it was a tumor, (b) it had not yet spread to any organs, and (c) we could pay thousands of dollars to surgically remove the tumor... along with her jaw... which would then require the installation of a stomach feeding tube... all without any guarantee of survival or maintaining quality of life.

We opted instead to just keep her comfortable and happy for however much longer we could. And, in fact, she lasted another month before the tumor reached the point where she couldn't close her mouth completely and couldn't stick her tongue out far enough to eat without lots of help.

On Sunday, we had her euthanized at home through Wholistic Paws (who were absolutely wonderful). We buried her in the backyard behind the shed and had a brief millisecond of silence before fleeing the devouring woodland mosquitos.

Thanks for being my dependable constant for 14 great years, Booty. We will all miss you!

tagged as memories, cats | permalink | 4 comments

Friday, August 18, 2017

Maia Week #6 Battle Report

At 6 weeks old, Maia is nearing 9 pounds in weight. Her favorite place to be is on the changing table next to the bright silver YAY balloon that makes interesting noises when slapped. She spends a lot of time on this changing table now that we've learned to wait a few extra minutes with fresh air on the giblets before putting a new diaper on, because there's probably another round in the chamber just ready to fire. This knowledge reduced our diaper consumption from 18 down to about 12 per day.

This has been the first week with one of us parents back in the real world working, and we've worked out a schedule where I get a full, continuous night's sleep, go to work at 6, and get home around 2 PM. This gives me a little extra energy to face people, but puts Rebecca on the lonely night shift. Thankfully, Maia has been getting more consistent about sleeping even though she rarely ever wants to go down.

I think we've worked out a pretty good rhythm, generally speaking, although it's mentally hard to have nearly diametrically opposed schedules -- while it definitely reduces the strain on any single person and eases the burden of baby care, it also means that we have much less time to spend on the preexisting condition called our marriage. However, we're winning at the moment, with a clean, growing baby, a clean house, a mowed lawn, and a well-stocked refrigerator.

The biggest change so far has been the need to timebox life into nap-based intervals of 2 - 4 hours at a time instead of a standard day. I selfishly miss the breezy flexibility and unthinkably vast quantities of free time I used to have, especially as I'm finally sitting down for my first video game of the day only to hear her waking up after an 18 minute nap. However, I'm also realistically aware that I would have squandered all of that free time on useless ventures anyhow (do I really need to rewatch The Wire a third time?), and I wouldn't think of wanting to go back.

tagged as offspring, day-to-day | permalink | 3 comments

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

New Job Day

Now that I've been back to work for two whole days, it's probably safe to announce that I've accepted a new job that starts on September 1. Meet my new boss:

That's right, I'll be joining the hallowed ranks of stay-at-home dads. I'm looking forward to helping Maia grow up without turning into a neo-Nazi, as well as trips to the park in the middle of the day where I get accused of being a pedophile for being the only dad there.

Rebecca and I have been planning to do this since before Maia was born. I gave my notice at work in early June after we seriously discussed it and realized it was feasible. It's not a choice without risk, but just seemed like the right choice for us right now. Rebecca will continue enjoying herself part-time in her physical therapy career and we won't have to deal with exorbitant day care fees or logistics. We also get more time to visit with the grandparents and friends, or take little trips on regular three-day weekends to East Coast Civil War battlefields (this is the only family activity I know how to do, based on my childhood).

Part of the decision stemmed from our safety net: the fact that we have healthy savings accrued from my years of working on secret alien autopsies and never buying anything unless it's in bulk (thanks, economist dad!). My 30-year mortgage will be paid off in 4 - 8 years (HUMBLEBRAG HASHTAG THANKFUL HASHTAG BLESSED) depending on how quickly I choose to throw money at it and destroy it like a financial ninja, and we could theoretically survive for up to twelve years jobless near our current quality of life as long as we stop buying beers in restaurants and Oculus Rift headsets.

I expect that there will be some job skill atrophy in my brain, but I'm the type of person that's always tinkering on side projects anyhow, and I think I have a strong enough social network and proven good will to counterbalance any rusty skills when I decide to go back. And I'll definitely go back someday -- maybe much sooner or maybe much later -- but at the moment I'm looking forward to an entirely different kind of challenge that doesn't involve software development. Don't get me wrong, software engineering is a wonderful challenge that has kept my brain satiated, but I've been doing it well for nearly twenty years now, and I can't imagine it being as fulfilling as turning a small organism into a thoughtful, empathetic large organism.

It's rare for life to give you the gift of more time and I have the luxury of being able to take advantage of this gift at this moment. Years down the line, when I'm sitting in my virtual reality rocking chair at the virtual old folks' home, I think I would always regret not embracing it, risk and all. Wish us luck!

tagged as offspring, deep thoughts, day-to-day | permalink | 9 comments

 

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