12/2016

Friday, December 02, 2016

Happy December!

I've been spending two hours a day driving to the temporary office of my new job, so I haven't had any time to write today's update, which was supposed to be about how little my life has changed since I finally got a smartphone last January.

Instead, here is a gfy of a cat wearing a tiny Santa hat.

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 2 comments

Monday, December 05, 2016

List Day: 10 Facts About My Smartphone Usage

I finally purchased a smartphone back in January 2016, but you wouldn't really know it based on the fact that it spends most hour sof the day on my desk at home, forgotten and sad. However, here are a few ways it has deeply impacted my life this year.

  1. I use it as a pleasant wake up alarm for power naps, but still use my beepy Timex watch to wake up in the morning.

  2. I have never used any mapping or GPS features in real-time. I still print maps.

  3. I can now read texts involving more than 1 person without dire warnings about Multimedia conversions and bandwidth restrictions.

  4. I joined Instagram because that's what you do with smartphones, but my feed is just other peoples' food and kids.

  5. There are currently only 7 people in my text message history: Rebecca, Kathy, Anna, LA Mike, my sister, my new boss, and my old neighbor who's having mail forwarding issues.

  6. I have to tediously track pictures from my smartphone and my classic camera when posting online, so I usually just skip taking any on the phone.

  7. My Washington Post print subscription is less valuable, because the print articles tend to come out two days after the online articles (sometimes with less click-baity titles).

  8. I have it while grilling, so I spend a lot less time speed reading classic elementary school books (like Beverly Cleary books) in the basement while waiting for the steaks to get done.

  9. I have a shared 1 GB data plan with Rebecca, and our combined average monthly usage is about 0.3 GB.

  10. I bring it to the bathroom, so it now takes me 6 months to reread an old Uncle John's Bathroom Reader rather than 1 month.

tagged as lists | permalink | 0 comments

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken at Christmas time in 1983. I'm wearing my favourite sweater that shows the designer's inability to understand the concept of wild animal perspective. My dad says that we were at the Economics and Business Department's Christmas party (he was a full-time teacher at Catholic University). The Greek Orthodox Santa was the department's administrative assistant and his costume was a really big deal for him

We would also attend a yearly event we attended where adoptive families got together and a fake Santa would give kids an early present. I was savvy enough to realize that fake Santa was fake (and had gotten the gift to give from the trunk of our car), but was just happy to get the Megatron Transformers gun early. That toy turned out to be a poorly-designed engineering debacle which couldn't stay in gun form long enough to shoot it.

tagged as memories | permalink | 4 comments

Friday, December 09, 2016

2016 Favourites: Top 10 Songs First Heard in 2016

2016 was a more musically lean year, so I'm just listing 10 songs I enjoyed this year in alphabetical order by band rather than ranking them against each other.

  • Bliss n ESO - Reservoir Dogs (2013):
    I got into Bliss n ESO from Hilltop Hoods and actually like them slightly better. This is a fun collaboration with several other Australian hip-hop artists.

  • Charlatans UK - So Oh (2014):
    I listened to a lot of the Charlatans UK a decade ago, and was happy to find their new album. THis is a relaxing, mellow song, great for winding down.

  • Drapht - Jimmy Recard (2009):
    This Australia hip-hop artist's voice is too annoying to listen to an entire album, but it's great in tiny doses.

  • Elle King - Ex's and Oh's (2015):
    This song is a country-tinged take on the type of "chicks with interesting voices" music I used to listen to in the 2000s.

  • Hilltop Hoods - I Love It (2011):
    You can't go wrong injecting Sia into any song. I also like that the song ends with a shopping list of cities that they love only to intentionally skip giving Zurich an endorsement.

  • Hoosiers - The Wheels Fell Off the Bus (2015):
    This album overall wasn't amazing, but I enjoyed this particular song.

  • Jeff Tuohy - Bourbon Street (2013):
    I like the fresh-feeling mix of jazz and rock in this song.

  • Misterwives - Our Own House (2015):
    This band does pure, distilled pop really well, and the singer's voice reminds me of Whitton.

  • Spose - Greatest Shit Ever (2015):
    Spose is very similar to Atmosphere, and I still can't put my finger on why I never got into Atmosphere but really enjoy Spose.

  • twenty one pilots - The Judge (2015):
    I know that this band is pure mainstream radio fluff, but this song has a catchy hook and a simple, effective composition.

Previous Picks: 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015

tagged as lists, music | permalink | 0 comments

Monday, December 12, 2016

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

6:01 AM: Showered and ready for work.
6:36 AM: Oozing down Brakelight Canal.
6:48 AM: Breakfast in style, with a Grand Slam Slugger.
7:17 AM: Arriving at the temporary office.
1:08 PM: Working lunch over my company-issued XPS 15.
3:55 PM: Leaving the quaintness of downtown Fairfax City.
4:42 PM: Deer in the yard!
5:00 PM: A little more work, in a standing position.
5:45 PM: Running on the treadmill and watching The Detectorists.
6:14 PM: Leftover Chuy's for dinner.
7:30 PM: Finally, time to unwind with Rise of the Tomb Raider.
8:29 PM: Rebecca comes home from teaching yoga.

tagged as 12 of 12 | permalink | 3 comments

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Twelve 12 of 12s

January: I probably spent as much time planning out my character as I did actually playing Fallout 4.
February: Still a three-cat household at the time.
March: Partying with the Lowrys.
April: A rare day where Donald Trump was NOT on the front page!
May: The office at my old company had a much better view.
June: Back Porch Taco Night.
July: Rebecca takes all the bags to work.
August: Booty got hooked on yogurt boxes this year.
September: Plenty of time for carpet cat-naps.
October: I just learned that my old company finally won the work for the proposal I was working on in this picture!
November: Chuy's is the best restaurant we discovered in 2016.
December: This is me at 37.

tagged as 12 of 12 | permalink | 2 comments

Friday, December 16, 2016

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Kathleen Madigan: Bothering Jesus:
Though not as funny as her earlier comedy specials, this one has a warm, charming feeling to it that makes it a pleasant way to spend an hour. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B-

The 100, Season Three:
I really enjoyed how the ultimate threat in this season's storyline started out orthogonally to the main plot thread. This continues to be a show of shallow characters mixed with great ideas and uneven execution -- the world-building is its strength, even if the characters often make incredibly stupid decisions that pass for character development. I still find it weird that they employ beautiful CW-style actors and actresses only to film them covered in mud, blood, and darkened corners that mask the low scenery budget. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B+

3%:
This is Netflix's first show from Brazil, which I watched with English subtitles (apparently the English overdub is awful). It starts out with a Hunger Games style of scenario, where only 3% of the people living in poverty make it to the mythical "Offshore", but it focuses more on the individual characters and the political intrigue behind the whole affair. This is a great, short (8 episode) sci-fi miniseries whose only downfall is that it requires intense reading if you don't know Portugeuse. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B+

iZombie, Season Two:
Through the beginning and middle of this season, I often felt like there was about 10% too much plot going on -- I just wanted to tune in for the snappy dialogue and had to remember characters from previous episodes and backstabs going in every direction. Luckily, the plot streamlines nicely towards the end, and even lets some supporting characters in on the main secrets of the show. I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes in the third season. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B+

I would review some Amazon Prime shows but I haven't seen any good ones in months! Plus, have you ever tried searching for something to watch there?

tagged as reviews | permalink | 1 comment

Monday, December 19, 2016

List Day: 10 Highest Grades of 2016

Have you missed out on any great TV shows, games, or albums this year? Here's a recap of the highest grades I bestowed in 2016.

  1. Person of Interest, S5 (A+)
    The final season of Person of Interest made the whole journey worthwhile, in spite of some clunky, phoned-in episodes in the fourth season.

  2. Lovesick, S2 (A)
    A British How I Met Your Mother if that show actually had some heart.

  3. Fargo, S2 (A)
    This entire series is a masterpiece.

  4. Overwatch (A)
    I've essentially played this game nonstop for 10 months now.

  5. Humans, S1 (A)
    Everyone seems to be doing shows about robots now, but this one has some real character to it.

  6. Black Mirror: White Christmas (A)
    The Christmas Episode between Season Two and Three is a tightly choreographed dance of three intertwined, horrifying technology stories.

  7. Orphan Black, S4 (A-)
    The only show where the lead actress plays dozens of different characters and feels like a different person each time.

  8. Justified, S6 (A-)
    The final season ended just right, and left me pleasantly looking forward to the day I rewatch the whole series.

  9. Kin by KT Tunstall (B+)
    This album is full of hooks that get stuck in Rebecca's head.

  10. Everything You've Come to Expect by Last Shadow Puppets (B+)
    It's been years since their original album, but it was definitely worth the wait!
  11. tagged as lists, reviews | permalink | 1 comment

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Memory Day: Snapshots

I will get back to my sequential Memory Day starting next year (next up: 1988). In the meantime, here is our annual family Christmas photo from 22 years ago in 1994. I was a junior in high school and Ellen was in her freshman year at UVA. I liked Osh Kosh B'Gosh collared shirts, British Knights, and acne.

tagged as memories | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, December 23, 2016
Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas At the Ahlbin's

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

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

2016 Timeline

A smattering of events from 2016

January: B+
  • Spent New Years in Sperryville.
  • Went to my first DC nightclub, for the company party
  • Snowbound in a big blizzard.
  • Finally got a smartphone.
February: B+
  • Conceived and launched a new open source project, Sparkour.
  • Rebecca became an officially trained yoga teacher.
  • Lots of snow and ice, paving the way for extra time with the Overwatch beta.
March: B-
  • Learned to hate Windows 10.
  • Had a big St. Patrick's Day party.
April: B
  • Went to Pittsburgh with Elisa and Sayak.
  • Enlarged the front porch.
  • Gave up custody of Sydney the cat.
May: B-
  • It rained forever.
  • Visited Anna and Ben in their new Fredericksburg house.
  • Planted new tomatoes after a year off.
June: B+
  • Celebrated the Smiths turning 40.
  • Started taking random days and weeks of off work just to burn leave.
  • Finished adding Book 3 to the Paravia Wiki.
July: B+
  • Had a Bastille Day BBQ.
  • Attacked by yellow jackets.
  • Went to a Sufjan concert at Wolf Trap.
  • Tried "Acro Yoga".
August: A
  • Took a two and a half week trip to Colorado for beers and hikes.
  • Went up a 14er and died.
  • Visited with my nephews, in town from Rhode Island.
September: A-
  • Remodeled the office and started using a standing desk.
  • Turned 37 with style.
  • Discovered a good farm-to-table restaurant in Lovettsville.
October: B+
  • Got another AWS certification.
  • Went to my 20th High School Reunion.
  • Swapped out both sets of across-the-street neighbours, as well as the Lowrys.
November: B
  • Got a new job and left Novetta / FGM after 16 years.
  • Rebecca taught her first paid yoga class at Sportrock.
  • Joined a book club for a moderately interesting sci-fi book.
  • Printed out some of my old compositions for Peebs' jazz band.
December: B
  • Worked 45 - 55 hours per week, while spending up to 2 hours a day in traffic.
  • Went to tons of holiday gatherings.
  • Spent Christmas in Fredericksburg.

How was 2016 for you?

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 2 comments

Friday, December 30, 2016

End-of-the-Month Highlights Day

A few photos have been added to the Life, 2016 album.

  • Events
    • Went to the Cranes for pizza and Christmas Vacation on F 12/2.

    • Ate enchiladas and played games at the Smiths on S 12/3.

    • Put up our Christmas lights and an extra deer on S 12/4.

    • Went to a housewarming party at Parry's on F 12/9.

    • Gained Titan for a week on F 12/16.

    • Went to a Potluck and Cookie Decorating Party on S 12/17.

    • Visited both sets of parents on S 12/24. Had stir fry for lunch and dim sum for afternoon snack.

    • Went to Fredericksburg to see the Hickses and the Ahlbins on S 12/25.

    • Hung out with visiting Annie on M 12/26.

    • Assembled a 3D globe with Sara on New Years Eve then went to bed early.

  • Projects
    • Commuted to Fairfax for my new job all month long. Ate breakfast at Denny's 6 times and worked 45 - 55 hours per week.

    • No time for other projects!

  • Consumerism
    • Got to level 434 in Overwatch and played Rise of the Tomb Raider on and off.

    • Enjoyed Colony, Season One and Glitch, Season One but haven't watched much TV this month.

December's Final Grade: B, Very busy, but lots of holiday friends and family!

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 2 comments

 

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