05/2017

Monday, May 01, 2017

Weekend Wrap-up

Welcome to May!

On Friday night, we went to Michelle's to optimize the packing of her Prius for a cross-country move to Berkeley, a city that clearly has more hippies than Reston by an exponential factor. On Saturday, I stayed in while Rebecca went to the Reston Farmer's Market (returning home with asparagus and cucumbers but no cow flanks). Rebecca has been on a bird kick recently, so she and her friend, Sara, put up a 2nd-floor bird feeder in the afternoon where it can be viewed by humans and cats alike in the kitchen. No birds have arrived yet.

On Sunday, we went to a work picnic / send-off for one of Rebecca's coworkers who is going back to Physical Therapy school. The heat was oddly comfortable and we played badminton on an unused basketball court for awhile while they talked about PT things. In the evening, we had leftovers and watched Captain Fantastic.

How was your weekend?

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Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Memory Day: The Past 10 Years

I think we've put our pre-baby years to pretty good use.

tagged as memories | permalink | 3 comments

Friday, May 05, 2017

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

American Crime Story: The People v. OJ Simpson:
This (dramatized) reenactment of the OJ Simpson trial is well-acted and a lot of fun. I got tired of Cuba Gooding Jr. and whatever he was trying to accomplish with his raspy voice affect, but that happens for me in everything he's in. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B+

Infiltrator (R):
This movie features Bryan Cranston as an undercover cop posing as an accountant in the 1980s cocaine trade. It does a very good job sustaining tension, but seems a little redundant when compared to all of the movies and shows it borrows from. There are also too many minor characters to keep track of. Good for a throwaway movie when nothing else is on. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B-

Gravel & Wine by Gin Wigmore:
This album has sparkles of promise, but is weighed down by overly repetitive songs and Wigmore's voice, which is similar to the voice of Elle King or Paloma Faith, but more scratchy and less polished. Listening to one song in isolation is a good experience, but the flaws start appearing when you hear more songs back to back.

Final Grade: C-

3D by Casey Driessen:
This album of modern bluegrass came up on my Gangstagrass Pandora station and its a fun change of pace from what I normally listen to. It reminds me a little of Ashley MacIsaac, whose albums I play every year on St. Patrick's Day. Gaptooth is a good, representative track.

Final Grade: B+

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Monday, May 08, 2017

Weekend Wrap-up

On Friday afternoon, I drove to Tysons for a surprise baby shower that Rebecca's coworkers had planned and thrown for her under the guise of a going away party for another coworker. This was not unlike the time Rebecca's friends had her make her own birthday cake for a surprise birthday party in 2008.

We took it easy on Saturday because of the rain -- Rebecca made it to the Reston Farmer's Market with her dad in between showers while I weeded 50% of the plant boxes and did various low priority home repairs. In the evening, we had dinner at Cafesano which boasted decent pita, comparable kabobs to every other kabob place in the world, and $3.50 craft beers. Afterwards, we took a late nature walk around Claude Moore and watched Moana.

On Sunday afternoon we went out to Taylorstown for yet another baby shower, this time with Rebecca's mom's side of the family. In the evening, I let Rebecca try the new Google Earth VR, which lets you fly around exotic and familiar locales with ease. It's pretty fun to revisit places we saw on our vacations or even visit our own Sterling neighbourhood -- although the street-level view is not yet high resolution, the area is rendered in just enough 3D to make it completely clear where you are.

How was your weekend?

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Baby Day: Dominant and Recessive Traits

REBECCA rebecca
BRIAN
  • The use of the pun as a weapon of wit
  • Financial responsibility
  • A weird mixed Southern-Midwestern accent
  • Disinterest in sugary treats
  • Ability to go outside without sunscreen
  • High level of hand-eye coordination required to hook a blinking Tracer
  • brian
  • The good looks
  • Can remain in Down Dog for hours on end
  • Ability to switch between five different books at any given time
  • Exceeding 6 feet in height
  • Love of organized sports
  • Ambition to become chapter president of a sorority
  • This is how genetics works, right?

    tagged as lists | permalink | 1 comment

    Friday, May 12, 2017

    Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

    5:51 AM: Showered and ready for work.
    6:12 AM: Jimmy Dean's for breakfast at the office.
    7:58 AM: Working.
    1:22 PM: Back from a midday grocery run.
    1:40 PM: Working from home.
    2:00 PM: Cat lunch.
    2:34 PM: Apparently, birds have discovered our bird feeder.
    4:00 PM: Catnap with Booty.
    5:15 PM: Opening our free Amazon Baby Box.
    6:00 PM: Making gnocchi and shrimp with a garlic parmesan sauce.
    7:28 PM: Dinner with friends.
    8:12 PM: Booty claims a guest's scarf.

    tagged as 12 of 12 | permalink | 0 comments

    Monday, May 15, 2017

    Weekend Wrap-up

    This weekend we went down to Fredericksburg to see our satellite friends. We spent Saturday evening with the Hickses and their seven social cats, and then went to Anna's second daughter, Rosie's, First Communion. The afterparty was a cornucopia of old faces, with 80% of the Spellerberg sisters reporting in (4 sisters = 13 kids minimum, plus the kids and dogs of family and friends).

    After a dull 2 hour trip back north full of standstill traffic, we reintroverted with our quiet cats and lack of children and prepared for the week to come by doing laundry and making lunches.

    How was your weekend?

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    Wednesday, May 17, 2017

    Memory Day: Snapshots

    This picture was taken 24 years ago, in May 1993.

    This is just after the Francis C. Hammond Junior High awards ceremony, at which I smugly earned 3 awards including the Director's Award for Band. To my right is my elementary school band director turned junior high band director, Barbara Moran.

    I'm definitely wearing a clip-on tie.

    tagged as memories | permalink | 1 comment

    Friday, May 19, 2017

    Review Day

    There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

    Bosch, Season Three:
    The third season of this extended police procedural follows the same pattern as the previous ones -- a slow build with a few different plots woven together that's just good enough to keep watching when nothing else is on. I enjoy the gentle ribbing and friendship of the main characters even when not much is happening. Free on Amazon Prime.

    Final Grade: B-

    Captain Fantastic (R):
    This is a story about a family that takes homeschooling and self-reliance to a crazy extreme, contrasted against the real world that goes on around them. I really enjoyed it, although I felt that it fell apart in the last act in an attempt to reach an obligatory "movie" ending. Free on Amazon Prime.

    Final Grade: B+

    Hell or High Water (R):
    This movie was much better than the cover would suggest. What starts off as an oddball heist movie turns into a broader study of a Texan microcosm and the death of the rural way of life. The dialogue and warm banter between police partners and bank-robbing brothers reminded me greatly of Justified.

    Final Grade: A-

    Moana (PG):
    This is a Disney movie with a slightly different, maybe more modern, feel than other musical Disney movies. The songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda have a fresh feeling that's more Avenue Q than Under the Sea in structure, and reduce any Disney cookie-cutter feel. I also enjoyed Alan Tudyk's dramatic role as Heihei the Chicken.

    Final Grade: B

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    Monday, May 22, 2017

    Weekend Wrap-up

    This past weekend, we got out of town for our final weekend away before Small Child Uri arrives. We opted for Ocean City even though the weather turned out to be a few degrees too cold to actually enjoy any beaching. Also, it was "cruiser" weekend in town, which is where all of the Maryland meth consumers drive up and down the main strip in their souped up American cars, oblivious to all of the advances in sound suppression and mufflers over the past 50 years, while everyone else camps out on the side of the road all day for a parade of jump scares and carbon monoxide.

    We shared a giant crab and cheese omelette at Bayside Skillet for brunch, and then checked into the swank Hampton Inn where we got a massive studio room with a king bed overlooking the bay. In the afternoon, we tried walking on the beach but hurricane-force winds chilled us and made it feel like we were walking through a swarm of tiny stinging insects. Sand was blowing around so rapidly that it felt like a time lapse of the tundra from Planet Earth.

    The indoor pool was much more pleasant, and we hung out there until it was dinner time. For dinner, we wandered up the strip to Seacrets. Although beach season hasn't quite started yet, the place was packed with women in bikinis who used beer and sheer will power to avoid hypothermia as the temperature hovered around 60 degrees. I had a surprisingly good seafood quesadilla and some Dogfish Head beer followed by a chocolate milkshake at Dumser's around the corner.

    On Sunday morning, we gorged on the traditional Hampton Inn breakfast buffet and then joined the single-lane crawl back across the state of Maryland to get home.

    Rebecca is now starting Week 35 of pregnancy, and has to bend to see her toes. How was your weekend?

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

    Wednesday, May 24, 2017

    Overwatch Day

    Overwatch turned one year old yesterday. I started playing this game during the closed beta in February 2016, and it is the only game in recent memory that has retained my contiguous interest for more than a year. Even in the face of crazy VR games for the Oculus Rift, I still find myself coming back to Overwatch to unwind after a long day of work.

    I haven't increased my stable of heroes that I'm good at playing, but there's still enough variety to make each game fresh and satisfying. Plus, the online community is "not awful", which is pretty high praise for any online community.

    What games are you playing these days, and what upcoming games are you looking forward to?

    tagged as games | permalink | 4 comments

    Friday, May 26, 2017

    Review Day

    There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

    About a Boy, Season One:
    Based upon the concept of the Hugh Grant movie of the same name, but as a reboot instead of a continuation, this show is about the friendship between a womanizing neighbor and the boy who moves in next door. A fun addition to the "good-hearted" humor type of sitcom. Free on Netflix.

    Final Grade: B+

    La La Land (PG-13):
    This movie was perfectly fine, but didn't stay with me at all after I finished watching it. As a musical, it has a few memorable tunes and is well-choreographed, but six Oscars seems a little excessive.

    Final Grade: B

    Cinematic by Illy:
    This is the fourth album from Australian hip hop artist, Illy, and has a good balance of song-style hooks to rap breaks. Tightrope is a good, representative track.

    Final Grade: B

    Lucky's Tale:
    This is one of the free launch titles for the Oculus Rift -- it's a simple 3D platformer in the style of Mario 64. The controls are tight and the gameplay is easy to get into if you've ever played a platformer before. The innovation here is that your head is the world camera, and it looks as if the game is played out on your kitchen table. You can look around the world independently of what the main character can see, which eliminates the frustration of "3D jumping in 2D", which is where most 3D platformers fall short. The game is only about 5 hours long, but it's polished and free!

    Final Grade: B

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments

     

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