Friday, July 10, 2020

List Day: 10 Unlikely Perils that Childrens' TV Prepared Me For

  • Quicksand

  • Fake roads painted on walls

  • All of the animals escaping from the farm

  • Erupting volcanoes

  • Trains approaching while I'm in the middle of a bridge

  • Trains derailing because the track switch is toggled to the wrong side

  • Convicts trying to steal my vault of gold

  • Friends pressuring me into smoking cigarettes

  • Trapped in a cage with the key just out of reach

  • Drugs everywhere

tagged as lists | permalink | 3 comments

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken 3 years ago today, on July 8, 2017.

Maia was about a day and a half old and trying to get me to lose at the circle game while staying in the Inova baby zone.

I never mentioned much about the hospital stay because Rebecca had originally planned to do some blog posts about it. Maia arrived by C-section after trying so hard to pop out the normal way that her head looked like a garden gnome's hat for a few hours. On the first night, the staff had to address some fluid in Maia's lungs (common for C-sections apparently), so I sat with Maia in a room full of tiny baby ovens while Rebecca finally got to sleep.

On day 3, we ordered pictures from the hospital-associated photographer with my only rule being that none of the pictures should look like an Anne Geddes!

tagged as memories | permalink | 1 comment

Monday, July 06, 2020

Maia Battle Report: Year 3

Maia is three years old today! She's 34.5" tall and weighs 27.4 pounds, the lowest possible values in the ranges for average growth.

Due to COVID, she had two separate birthday parties, one for each set of grandparents. She's very aware of age this year and has talked about being 2 and turning 3 for weeks. She expresses excitement by proclaiming, "I so excited!" and then running down the hall and back for no apparent reason. She's also looking forward to our upcoming beach trip where she will "sleep in the top bunk and the bottom bunk".

We finally showed her Frozen 2 and she had a rudimentary grasp of the plot without explaining (other than the endless sequences of nature fairies flying everywhere). She even got worried when the characters sailed into a dark cave and asked, "How will they get out of there?". Frozen 1 is still her favourite but she likes Olaf scenes no matter what. Maia now owns 2 Elsas from 2 different gift givers, Big Elsa and Baby Elsa. Thankfully only one of them sings "Let It Go" in its entirety. If Elsa is not around in the room somewhere when Maia wakes up, she'll call out, "Elsa, where are you?" over and over.

Other fragments from the past month:

  • She got a big batch of new books when the library opened back up and spent her quiet time inventing the stories to go with the pictures since we hadn't read them yet.

  • Like a research chimp, she learned to use a plastic bucket as a stool. She fell off just often enough that I gave her a sturdy footstool to drag around her room instead.

  • She slept on the floor a few nights last week. When we finally asked her why, she said that there were too many bunnies in the bed, and allowed us to move the majority of them onto the stuffed animal shelf. The era of bunnies is not over, though, as she has stated that all bunnies will be going to the beach to help use the bunk beds.

  • She now has a weekly visit to Lake Barcroft to sit on the shady beach and visit with Rebecca's parents from afar which will train her well for the beach.

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

Friday, July 03, 2020

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Modern Family, S10:
Most of the cast has been flanderized by this tenth season. There are just enough warm family moments or funny jokes to keep it afloat, but it's definitely showing its age.

Final Grade: C+

Knives Out (PG-13):
This is a great, traditional murder mystery that functions well as a 21st century version of Clue. The large cast of characters is expertly introduced in a way that the audience can keep up with who's who, and the clues to the murder of a famous author are placed in a way to allow both solving-at-home and red herrings.

Final Grade: B+

Frozen II (PG):
I gave Frozen a C five years ago although that might rise to a B- now that I watch parts of it regularly with Maia. Frozen II feels like a straight-to-video sequel with most of the songs being forgettable B sides. The story is more abstract and talky than the original, so kids might get bored more easily in the middle stretches. A few chuckles here and there, and way too much Olaf (which Maia loves and no adult does) make this passable entertainment. On the CGI side, though, the water and fabrics look great!

Final Grade: B-

Dark, Season Three:
The final season of this German show is simultaneously too slow and too rushed. The nature of the story and the new wrinkles introduced in Season Two sometimes make it feel like the story is treading water. By the end, I wished that some of that time had been spent filling in the growth and outcome of more supporting characters instead. (That's not to say there are any PLOT HOLES -- just gaps in the massive cast's stories that are never explicitly told because they're not on the main path).

That said, this season is a great testament to shows that plot out how they're going to end before they've begun (RIP Lost). The attention to detail in tying lines of dialogue, camera angles, and other facets back to previous seasons also reveals huge clues from old seasons about how the ending would work out. The first half of the eight-episode season is a little slow and muddy, but the last half is full of plot answers and tragic stories.

The finale manages to satisfy both people looking for science answers and people looking for resolution for the characters (RIP Lost). While it seems to break a few of the show's established "rules", post-show discussion on Reddit helped me appreciate how tightly-knit it actually was. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B+ (I gave Season One and Two an A- and A respectively, and would give the series as a whole an A-).

tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

COVID Thoughts Day

I originally made these posts on Facebook last month. Since I regularly wipe most of my Facebook history, I wanted to preserve them here as well.

June 11, 2020

COVID-19 is still here. The state reopening doesn't mean that it's magically vanished, and the fact that we're all tired of reacting to it has not given us superhero immunity.

There is no deadline attached to "flattening the curve". The longer we can delay the spread of the virus, the more we'll learn about it, and the better prepared we'll be when you or someone you care about finally needs one of those hospital beds.

Please step cautiously through the world, fully aware of the ongoing risks to you and your network. For example, new research (not yet peer-reviewed) suggests that I may be 45% more at risk for respiratory failure. Simple things like universal masks will help to keep me and other vulnerable people safe.

Everyone's threshold for acceptable risk is going to be unique, but there's a pragmatic middle ground between never seeing anyone again and shouting YOLO in a Denny's.

June 27, 2020

I often read about people yearning for a "return to normal", as if there will be a day sometime soon when the danger has passed and we can slip comfortably into our old, familiar patterns of life. This is difficult to accept, but COVID-19 isn't a temporary pause point. It's not like the time Derek pooped in the community pool and no one could swim for an hour while the lifeguard rechlorinated the water.

COVID-19 is a norm-altering event whose aftershocks will continue to ripple out for months, if not years, to come. Some effects will be negative, like the health burdens of survivors with physiological damage, an increase in tribalism between people who don't realize they have a lot in common, and masks that make communication and social interpretation more challenging. Others will be positive, like supply chain innovation and increasing acceptance of telework. Either way, things will be DIFFERENT, and a hard rewind to a simpler time is unlikely.

Free yourself. Abandon the idealized notion of what life used to be like and focus on evolving and adapting. Switch gears from waiting and surviving day-to-day to figuring out what you need to be happy in the long-term. If there are technical or social things you're missing (a new web camera, a daily routine, or a standing video chat with old friends), set them up now. It's okay to be selfish and put your own oxygen mask on first, before you channel your energy into family and friends, or larger societal problems.

We can continue to grow as people and communities even in super weird end times and come out stronger in the long run.

tagged as deep thoughts | permalink | 1 comment

 

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