06/2017

Friday, June 02, 2017

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Catastrophe, Season Three:
This is Season Three in name only, and truly feels like a continuation and conclusion of the events from Season Two. That said, I enjoyed its progression, and it even managed to raise my opinion of Season Two (which I felt ended abruptly and without much development). I enjoy how the main characters are flawed and sometimes mean-spirited, but they maintain a good chemistry and rarely ever cross the line into easy hateful humor.

Final Grade: B

Lovetap! by Smallpools:
This is an upbeat collection of indie rock that reminds me a little of the Hoosiers. It has a solid collection of beats and catchy melodies. Dreaming is a good, representative track.

Final Grade: B+

Connect the Dots by Misterwives:
The sophomore album from Misterwives is pretty solid, although I don't yet know if I like it as much as the first. They play around a lot more with tempos on this album, which reduces the efficacy of any one song as a workout beat.

Final Grade: B+

Cardboard Castles by Watsky:
Watsky got his start in slam poetry, and his rap shows off a polished, rapid-fire diction. His arrangements are nicely varied and keep the album interesting on successive listens when the lyrics grow less clever. Moral of the Story is a good, representative track (lyrics not safe for work). The only flaw are the interjections of random conversations with his son between tracks -- this device is never as interesting for a listener as it is for the parent.

Final Grade: B+

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Monday, June 05, 2017

Kitty Day

An era has finally come to an end -- Kitty, the Maine Coon cat that Rosie, Anna, and I adopted in our Blacksburg apartment in 2000, finally passed away on June 1, 2017 at the age of 17.

Being a Maine Coon, Kitty was a super intelligent cat, implicitly understanding things like when a squirrel runs out of view of the back patio door, it will eventually reappear on the front porch. Anna taught her to sit, speak, and almost roll over, and she could also sing for her dinner:

Because of this hyper-intelligence, Kitty was bored of normal cat life and stupid humans, and she demonstrated this throughout life by destroying all of our mouse wires (remember when mice had wires?) and peeing on everyone's carpets. I used to buy mice in bulk packages, knowing that we'd go through several in a year.

Kitty eventually moved in with Anna and the ineluctable Sydney in 2005. We eventually discovered that being allowed to go outside eliminated all of her boredom and pee issues. She turned into a backyard / forest cat (depending on the locale) and ruled over the local fauna like a shaggy Disney princess. She finished out her final year in Fredericksburg with a giant backyard to pee in, surrounded by four kids with whom she was enduringly patient.

Rest in peace, Kitty!

tagged as cats | permalink | 2 comments

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Cat Jokes

I was trolling through old URI! Zone posts in search of material to write a Time-lapsed Blogography Day update and stumbled across this excerpt from a Weird Search Day 8 years ago.

Google Search term: really bad "your cat's so fat" jokes

  1. Your cat's so fat, she has eleven lives.
  2. Your cat's so fat, she sinks in the litter box when she pees.
  3. Your cat's so fat, she rolled over a lab puppy and turned it into a pug.
  4. Your cat's so fat, she lands on her yards instead of her feet.
  5. Your cat's so fat, she says, "WEow".
  6. Your cat's so fat, Virginia Tech put a glass window in her belly.
  7. Your cat's so fat, she poops smaller cats.
  8. Your cat's so fat, she sank the Eukanuba.
  9. Your cat's so fat, she's in the bourgeoisie.
  10. Your cat's so fat, she falls on the wall.

tagged as green (recycled) content, cats | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, June 09, 2017

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Good Luck With Your Life by Spose:
The newest album from Spose is clever and fun to listen to one time, but doesn't offer much on repeat listenings. He has a knack for neat similes and wordplay in his lyrics, but like a stand up comedy special, once you've appreciated them they aren't as good the second time around. None of the songs are lasting enough that they've stuck in my mind as I write this review.

Final Grade: C+

Mondo by Electric Guest:
I bought this album based on a Pandora referral to This Head I Hold. It's really catchy and does a nice job of blending styles from several different past eras. A few songs last way too long, but otherwise this is a worthwhile album.

Final Grade: B+

Lion (PG-13):
This story about a young Indian boy who falls asleep on a train and gets lost in a city miles away is very well done, although it occasionally feels emotionally manipulative. We went into it not knowing what it was about, but as the story progressed, I realized that I had read the original (true) story it was based on back when Google Earth was becoming a big deal. It may not be Best Picture material but it was fun to watch -- I actually enjoyed the acting of the little boy more than the dependable Dev Patel.

Final Grade: B

Hidden Figures (PG):
This is a pleasant, paint-by-numbers story about the black women who worked for NASA during the space craze, just as computers were becoming a thing. Though not bad in any way, it's not particularly challenging -- you may like it if nothing else is on.

Final Grade: B-

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Monday, June 12, 2017

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

5:45 AM: Ready for work.
6:08 AM: These Jimmy Dean crescent roll breakfast sandwiches are pretty good, and also filling. The English muffin versions taste like a hockey puck.
3:03 PM: Driving home from work in 94 degree heat.
3:12 PM: Our new fig tree has not yet died or been stepped on.
3:16 PM: Late lunchtime for cats.
3:19 PM: Our nursery in progress, to make up for the lack of action pictures so far today.
3:27 PM: Afternoon bagel and the "newspaper".
4:15 PM: Losing a bunch of games in Overwatch.
6:00 PM: Running on the treadmill and watching The 100. I love that the caption in this scene is so matter-of-fact. "LOOK, WE'RE CAUGHT IN THE RAIN, AND IT BURNS."
6:52 PM: Evening naps are acceptable for pregnant ladies.
8:02 PM: Making pumpkin ravioli with butternut squash sauce.
8:46 PM: Our new "Monday Night Dinner" tradition has now lasted for 2 whole Mondays.

tagged as 12 of 12 | permalink | 1 comment

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Coke Zero Day

I've been a Coke Zero drinker since early 2006 because it allowed me to drink free sodas at my old job continuously throughout the day, but it didn't have the disgusting aftertaste of Nutrasweet-based Diet sodas. I'm still on the Coke Zero bandwagon (as evinced by the 140 cans I bulk purchased at Costco because they only stock it once every ten years), but I still get irritated by Coke Zero's penchant for premature bubbling. You can try this Mr. Wizard experiment at home to see what I'm talking about:

  • Take a chilled can of Coke Zero from the fridge and gently pop the top.
  • Have a sip or two then gently place the can on your desk.
  • Go back to work writing missile guidance systems, or whatever you do, and allow time to pass as time does.
  • At some point between 2 and 10 minutes later, you'll hear a ruckus coming from the opened can as if some of the Coke molecules got excited about the new season of Fargo and started a pep rally. The can will start to carbonate loudly until all of the remaining soda is affected, then everything will go quiet.
  • Take another sip of Coke. It is now mostly flat and not nearly as enjoyable.

It is left as an exercise for the reader to explain this phenomenon.

tagged as random | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, June 16, 2017

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Off the Grid by Bliss n' Eso:
Bliss n' Eso's newest album feels a little calmer and centered than their previous work, but not quite as infectiously fun -- it seems like many of the hip-hop artists I like at this stage in my life are all rapping about how they've kicked their alcoholism and are raising kids. I enjoyed Whatever Happened to the DJ? and a few other tracks. As an import CD, it's probably not worth the higher cost unless you're a fan.

Final Grade: B-

Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King:
This standup special featuring one of the Daily Show correspondents is great -- best if you enjoy a story-telling style of stand-up. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B

Modern Family, Season Seven:
I can't believe there are seven seasons of this show now. This season is one of the stronger ones (with 4 or 5 being something of a low point), as it returns to the style and feel of the first seasons. The main stumble is giving more air time to yet another toddler -- toddler humor just isn't very funny, and should have been allowed to fade off the show when the first toddler grew up.

Final Grade: B

Patriot, Season One:
This is a show with a very unique feel about a depressed spy that struggles to complete his missions. Although it has shades of Fargo, the creator is obviously trying for something very different from your normal TV fare, and it works more often than it doesn't. If you can give it a little patience (at least 3 trial episodes) and can appreciate a plot that unfolds and expands more than it progresses in a straight line, you'll really enjoy this. I'm watching it again with Rebecca and it continues to grow on me. Free on Amazon Prime.

Final Grade: A-

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Weekend Wrap-up

We're now in week 39 of Baby Watch (or Baby Warning, if we are to use the National Weather Service's terminology). On Friday afternoon, the Ahlbins came up from Fredericksburg with their 4 kids for a night of basement camping and Wall-E, while Ben and Anna got to try out the Oculus Rift. Ben demonstrated his ability to physically dodge a robot with some sort of "sliding into first base" maneuver that took him precariously close to the descending stairway.

Not a lot happened on Saturday -- Rebecca went to a wedding shower in the evening while I ordered pizza in and finished the fourth season of The 100 and then played Overwatch.

On Sunday, my parents stopped by briefly in the afternoon to check out our swank nursery, then we made a grocery run to stock up on slow cooker chili ingredients (apparently having a newborn is so intensely demanding that you never leave the house for supply runs). Afterwards, we took a brief nature walk through Claude Moore, then had dinner at the surprisingly empty O'Faolains, where we learned that you can now swap out fries for tater tots. Of course, we did.

How was your weekend?

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

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Memory Day: Snapshots

The picture on the left is Rebecca at 4 months (October 1983), while the picture on the right is me at 20 months (May 1981).

This should allow you to extrapolate what our daughter will look like. You can check your work against the crazy 3D ultrasound image below!

tagged as offspring, media | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, June 23, 2017

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

The 100, Season Four:
This show is still a great example of sci-fi lite, where you can go along for the ride without thinking too hard. Though the plot in this season isn't quite as interesting as Season Three, it's still entertaining and ends up with a nice shake-up that should make the next season fresher. The main flaw in this season is the continued flip-flop of characters that make wishy-washy decisions to forward the plot and then feel angsty about them.

Final Grade: B

Chronos:
This is a very polished 3rd-person Zelda-like game for the Oculus Rift. Like Lucky's Tale, the camera is your head, and your character runs from room to room fighting goblins and solving simple puzzles. It has a few instances of poorly telegraphed puzzles and I'm not very good at the fighting aspect, but it's very immersive and a good example of what VR can do for gaming.

Final Grade: B

Keep Talking and No One Explodes:
This is a fun VR party game where one player wears the headset and sees a suitcase bomb that they can manipulate. They have to describe what they're seeing to people in the real world who have a printed manual of logic rules (like "If there are 4 wires, cut the red wire"). The opening menu is a little cumbersome to navigate but the game itself evokes fun Telephone-like miscommunications that result in the bomb defuser getting blown up on a regular basis. We've only played the first few types of puzzles, but the later ones look intimidatingly daunting in the printed manual.

Final Grade: B+

Google Earth VR:
VR is one of those technologies whose impact can't truly be understood until you put the headset on yourself, and Google Earth is easily the killer app to make people understand. This program allows you to travel anywhere on the planet and fly through the world with your controllers. Because it is not yet integrated with Google Street View on the web, the illusion breaks down if you zoom in too close to person-scale, but it's still exhilarating to revisit places you've been before or trek up Mount Everest without danger. I've read that they've used this VR program on dementia patients to allow them to visit their childhood homes, and I, myself, have re-experienced all of the crazy vacations and hikes that Rebecca and I have taken. The map data improves regularly, and many of the neighbourhoods are getting 3D-ified with LIDAR data (surprisingly, Sterling Park is one of the completed ones, as seen in the screenshot below). In cases where the neighbourhood isn't available yet, the topography of the landscape is still rendered, but the buildings are shown as a flat texture.

Final Grade: B+

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Monday, June 26, 2017

Weekend Wrap-up

This weekend was the last one for awhile with activities on the calendar. On Saturday, we took a walk through Sugarland just before it got hot for the day, and then went over to Karolina and Carlos' for an evening barbeque. I also played the new VR game, Mage's Tale which is set in the universe of The Bard's Tale and allows you to throw fireballs at goblins.

On Sunday, we did a morning neighborhood walk and then helped Sara move in Reston. In the afternoon, I got introduced to homebrewing at Car & Ben's house -- it was interesting from a hobbyist perspective, but I don't think I'd ever have the patience to do it myself unless the turnaround time for a batch was less than 24 hours. For dinner, we went to Burger 21 for burgers and shakes.

No baby yet!

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

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken 37 years ago, in 1980.

My dad and I are outside the childhood home on Pickett Street where they still live today. I seem to be inwardly disgusted by declining human morality, or alternately, I'm pooping.

tagged as memories | permalink | 0 comments

Friday, June 30, 2017

End-of-the-Month Highlights Day

New photos have been added to the Life, 2017 album. Google Photos sucks.

  • Events
    • Kitty died on H 6/1 at the age of 17.

    • Had Tammy and Chris over for a dinner of gnocchi and shrimp on F 6/2.

    • Took a class about babies and boobs then went to the Smiths for a Game Night on S 6/3.

    • Had Weekly Friend Dinner with Sara, and sometimes Car and Ben, on M 6/5, M 6/12, M 6/19, and M 6/26.

    • Had an early outdoor dinner at Miller's on T 6/6 and I ate 35 fried shrimp again.

    • Went to a "Bourbon Tasting" party at Ben's on F 6/9.

    • Saw Rebecca's parents then went to an ADVANCED BABY CLASS on S 6/10.

    • Eradicated a sect of wasps invading our porch on S 6/11.

    • Had the Ahlbins for an overnight visit on F 6/16.

    • Saw my own parents on S 6/18 before their vacation out west.

    • Celebrated Rebecca's 34th birthday by going to the OB on H 6/22.

    • Rebecca stopped working on F 6/23.

    • Went to a barbeque at Carlos and Karolina's on S 6/24 (Rebecca's Due Date).

    • Helped Sara move and helped Ben brew a beer on S 6/25.

    • Went to Red's Table with Car and Ben on T 6/27.

    • No baby yet!

  • Projects
    • Continued to construct, rearrange, and decumulate in preparation for baby time.

  • Consumerism
    • Enjoyed newly discovered music by Smallpools, Electric Guest, and Watsky.

    • Continued to play Overwatch and also am enjoying Mage's Tale for the Oculus Rift.

    • Really enjoyed watching The Patriot on Amazon Prime.

June's Final Grade: B+, a lot going on and many visits with local friends, but a lot of waiting towards the end!

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 4 comments

 

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