Friday, March 27, 2020

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Patchwork:
This is another 2-player game with as much replayability as Lost Cities or Apotheca -- you spend buttons to buy different Tetris shapes to cover your quilt board. Game rules are very simple and setup is quick. There's tons of strategic depth although there are just enough variables that it makes it hard to tell if you're actually winning until the final score comes down. All of our games so far have been decided within a few points of each other.

Final Grade: B

Recover by Lenka:
This is a 20 minute EP of covers, pleasant enough other than the five and a half minute rendition of Bob Dylan's Mr. Tambourine Man in which she sings "Hey Mr. Tambourine Man" at least 80 times on the same pitches.

Final Grade: B

Sleeping with Other People (R):
The skeleton of this movie is predictable -- a romantic comedy featuring flawed leads who are better with each other. What saves it from banality is the supporting cast of familiar faces (including Adam Scott, Natasha Lyonne and two of the leads from i'm sorry) and the easy laughs they induce.

Final Grade: B

Matinee by Jack Penate:
The debut album of another musician I liked a lot in 2008 then forgot about -- Matinee has a catchy bounce and infectious songs. It reminds me a little of The Hives.

Final Grade: B+

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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

List Day: 8 Ways We've Passed the Time During COVID-19

  1. I've run 1 - 2 miles each day while watching Better Call Saul and iZombie.

  2. Rebecca and Maia have gone to the park many times, but often seem to run into our parent friends with the same idea.

  3. I've gotten hooked on playing Elder Scrolls Online, after trying World of Warcraft again and getting bored almost immediately. I also have Borderlands 3 in my queue but the first 20 minutes felt identical to the previous 2 games so I haven't gotten any further yet. I'm looking at Half-Life: Alyx but am unsure whether I want to lug my computer downstairs for VR all of the time.

  4. Rebecca and I have played a lot of the 2-player board game, Patchwork, on loan from Larry and Janice.
  1. I'm wrapping up work on the 20th anniversary re-release of Augmented Fourth (April 1).

  2. Maia has only watched 30 minutes of television during the entire quarantine, because she's so happy doing other things.

  3. Yesterday, I finished adding the penultimate Wars of Light and Shadows book into the Paravia Wiki, closing out a task that started 13 years ago.

  4. On Monday, I finished the cartoons for the 6th issue of the Uri Tech Primer, on open-source software.

How are you keeping busy and/or sane?

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

Monday, March 23, 2020

Weekend Wrap-up

This weekend, we took our self-isolation zone south to Sperryville for a two night stay in a private cottage. What was originally going to be a parent getaway planned weeks ago evolved into a family vacation in the face of the world going viral. We took all necessary precautions along the way: no stops to pee, one person on sterile take-out duty throughout the weekend, and only interacting with the innkeepers when handing off a growler for take-out beers.

The weather was wonderful Friday evening and we enjoyed a beer flight that was 9 for 9 in "beers I would drink again" on our private porch. Maia and Rebecca walked along and in the Thornton River until they fell in. Rebecca was more startled than Maia, who spent the rest of the weekend talking about how "mommy lost her sunglasses in the pond" but it's okay because "mommy has lots of sunglasses". For dinner, we had take-out pizza and then Maia took 3 hours to fall asleep in the exciting new cottage.

Rebecca went hiking at Buck Hollow early Saturday while Maia and I stayed home and practiced sleeping in each bed in the cottage. The innkeepers delivered two breakfast omelets made with smoky cheddar cheese and goat cheese and Maia ate all of the kiwi.

After breakfast, we drove into Shenandoah National Park to find it overwhelmed with visitors taking advantage of "No Entry Fees". It was pretty difficult to find a place to get out and hike responsibly distanced but we eventually made it to Skyland Lodge and Furnace Springs Trail. By the time we left the park at 1 PM, the overlooks were beginning to fill up like someone had advertised fall foliage months too early. It was definitely not a scene full of people taking COVID-19 seriously, although we can't impartially judge since we were there ourselves. "You aren't in traffic, you ARE traffic!" as the saying goes.

Maia's favorite part of the trip was when I made Annie's mac and cheese for lunch and all of the pasta was shaped like bunnies. After nap/quiet time, we picked up a lamb sandwich with a side of "balls of fire" from another nearby restaurant we used to get burgers at. The "balls of fire", fried balls of jalapeno macaroni and cheese the size of a stress ball, were serious business and even Rebecca couldn't finish one.

We drove home on Sunday after a breakfast of Eggs Hopkins: eggs over easy, prosciutto, and spinach drizzled over crunchy toast.

How was your weekend?

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Friday, March 20, 2020

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Costello Music by The Fratellis:
I don't know how I missed the debut album from this Scottish rock band, especially since Chelsea Dagger was one of my jams in 2011. Each song is a catchy, high energy germ with a little storytelling woven in.

Final Grade: B+

How to Destroy a Tech Startup in Three Easy Steps by Lawrence Krubner and Natalie Sidner:
First up in my self-quarantine reading queue, this book tells of a lead developer's experience at a NYC startup. Like Dan Lyon's Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble (which I gave a B), Krubner paints a great picture of toxic management and software development personalities which will feel exaggerated until you stumble across that one you've actually encountered yourself in the wild. Tech jargon is kept to a minimum and well-explained for non-developers, and software developers may experience a sympathetic rise in blood pressure during some of the more true-to-life scenes.

Final Grade: B+

Better Call Saul, S4:
This season was very "good" in the way that "good" is understood by cinephiles, but it did not noticeably move the story far beyond what had already come before. The entire thing felt a little low energy and sometimes Jimmy McGill seemed like a B-story in his own show. The backstory behind Gustavo Fring's empire is still the most boring part to me -- I would rather see more of Jimmy's exploits than spend 8 episodes digging a hole in the ground. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B-

Lady Bird (R):
This was a perfectly pleasant coming-of-age story that didn't really stick with me after it was over. With snappy dialogue and believable characters, it's a good movie for nights when nothing else is on. Free on Amazon Prime.

Final Grade: B

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Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Time-lapsed Blogography Day: Twenty Years Ago Today

Twenty years ago today, on March 18, 2000, I attended an underwhelming brass master class at George Mason University.

It was the final weekend of Tech's spring break and I was at home for an in-person intern interview at FGM (where I learned that they had already hired me and just wanted to chat) and a periodic "give up Ethernet for Lent" penance where I was forced to use my parents' 56KB dialup for a week.

On this Saturday, I drove to Mason for a master class put on by the two trumpeters from the Canadian Brass (Romm and Lindemann at the time, if my memory still serves). In my subsequent journal entry, I wrote that the class "was interesting, but not particularly helpful. More of a public interest type of class". I had hoped for some solid trumpet performance tips and ended up with random people asking "who came up with the idea to wear sneakers on stage?" It was essentially a Reddit Ask-Me-Anything before its time.

In fact, the only memorable aspects of the afternoon were bumping into a blind trumpeter I knew from high school (colloquially, not physically) and chatting with a cute senior flute player from Mason before the master class began.

The next day, I packed up my desktop computer and giant monitor, picked up Anna and Rick (a.k.a "Gold Medal") and made the 4 hour trip back to Tech.

tagged as memories | permalink | 1 comment

 

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