10/2017

Monday, October 02, 2017

Data Day: How Much Sleep Dad Gets

I kept track of my total hours of sleep (starting when Maia was 1 week old) to see if there was any proof to the popular adage about "never sleeping again".

The data seems to disprove the hypothesis, as I slept a total of 631 hours at an average of 8.08 hours per day. Generally, this is lumped into about 7 contiguous hours during the night shift, followed by a floor nap of up to an hour somewhere around 3 PM (when Maia permits).

When I was a double-income-no-kids working stiff, I averaged about 6.5 hours of sleep per night, usually going to bed around 10:30 and waking up around 5 AM. So, I'm actually getting more sleep as a dad!

tagged as data | permalink | 2 comments

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Eighth Anniversary Day

As anniversaries pass, and senility robs us of our wedding memories, we'll always have the photographic evidence to fall back on.

Other posts in this series: 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017

tagged as media | permalink | 2 comments

Friday, October 06, 2017

Maia Week #13 Battle Report

Maia is now 13 weeks old (or 3 months if you prefer to measure time in glaringly uneven increments instead). She is now great at grabbing things and cooing as a form of communication, and loves our near-daily walks in Claude Moore Park. Her weight still goes up and down around 12 pounds as we had a few days where she wasn't particularly interested in eating stuff. We suspect that she will end up being a slow eater in the future, based on her average time at the spigot now.

Maia continues to be a very agreeable baby in most regards. The hardest and worst part of parenting right now is putting her to bed during the day. She usually hates to go down for a nap unless it's a short catnap in a front carrier that just makes her more tired. Our process manual for putting her to bed ends up being an extended list of one-off tricks that worked great exactly once and then never work again -- Cosmopolitan magazine might as well write a top ten tricks list about getting a baby to sleep because it will be just as realistic as their other lists and something ridiculous might actually work.

In the past two days, we have gotten her to enjoy sleeping in the bassinet more -- this is great for my back and joints, which protest mightily when I wear the carrier around the house all day long. I tend to have my smartphone around much more often these days, since I never know when I'll get stuck hovering near the bassinet for up to an hour . I definitely feel like I have "earned" the right to sleep at night!

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

Monday, October 09, 2017

New Job FAQ

As I mentioned in last month's Highlights post, I got an interesting job offer from my old company last month. Since I've now accepted it (and start tomorrow), here are a few FAQs to describe what's going on.

What's this new job you're starting?

I will be a Solutions Architect, which is essentially what I was doing in 2015 - 2016 but with a fancy title. I'll provide technical writing and reviewing skills on proposals and whitepapers in the hopes of winning new government work for Novetta, and will distill complex concepts into understandable chunks for audiences of varying technical levels. There will be no software development involved (but I could go back to it in the future).

The key portion of this job is that I'll be classified as an hourly part-time employee who is allowed to work as few or as many hours as necessary each pay period. Based on my baby responsibilities and the amount of work available (proposal work generally ebbs and flows), I might surge one week or go a few weeks with no work at all. I'll probably end up averaging around 18 hours per week (with 1 morning in the Tysons Corner office and the rest from home). Rebecca is still our family's medical insurance breadwinner, but I can also negotiate to go over 30 hours someday if I ever need to qualify for medical insurance again.

In addition, the hourly rate is not too shabby, and I get to work for the two bosses that I enjoyed working with most in my previous tenure.

Didn't you just decide to be a Stay-At-Home-Dad?

Yes, and I still am, mostly! The new job is more flexible than I was in 1989, and is very compatible with my desire to be a SAHD. I will still be taking good care of Maia throughout the week while Rebecca is at work or getting some self-care time at yoga. Plus, I'm pretty sure that it will be much easier to write and review prose with a distracting child than it would be to write working software.

Did this new job have anything to do with you leaving your last job?

No, I intentionally kept the two positions discrete from each other. I left the old job to be a SAHD (because the "startup" lifestyle is not conducive to placing family first). I selected the new job because it was compatible with SAHDing.

Do you regret leaving Novetta last year since you're just going back now?

No. I loved the people I worked with and the work I did at Novetta. The reasons I left were (1) I was getting pushed towards a non-software proposal-writing role but wasn't quite ready to stop writing code, (2) I was unsure about how my code-writing skills were faring, and (3) I wanted to make sure that I could survive and thrive in an environment where I didn't already have an established reputation for getting stuff done (or in other words, "was this guy at the same company for 17 years because he couldn't cut it anywhere else, or because both he and the company had a good thing going?").

I feel like I was exactly where I needed to be on my 10 month Novetta break -- I proved that I could still write code and get stuff done, and I can now more easily embrace a proposal-writing role knowing that I won't be permanently shutting the door on my coding skills.

Have any other questions? Ask me in the comments section!

tagged as deep thoughts, day-to-day | permalink | 1 comment

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

American Vandal:
This is a pitch-perfect satire of the true crime documentary genre (such as Serial and Making a Murderer), with a small team of high school students investigating who drew 27 dicks on cars in the teacher's parking lot. With a setup like that, it would be easy to stick with the obvious jokes -- the reason this 8-episode season works so well is because it's played completely straight, allowing you to get swept up into a fun snapshot of modern high school life in the days of social media and Youtube stars. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B+

Fortitude, Season Two:
The second season of Fortitude strays a little too far into mysticism and meanders through several disjointed storylines before jumping the shark in the last two episodes. The final episode felt so poorly written that I actually thought I'd missed a few scenes somewhere along the line. Watch the first season and stop. Free on Amazon Prime.

Final Grade: C-

Raven Locks, Act 3 by Dirt Poor Robins:
The Dirt Poor Robins have been releasing this pop musical one act at a time over the past few years. The final act seems to have the more memorable songs, like Welcome to Lady Hell, front-loaded. Listening to all 3 acts together reveals a nice, cohesive whole.

Final Grade: B

Falling and Flying by 360:
I bought this CD because I thought the single, Boys Like You was pretty catchy. However, it turns out that 360's songs are catchy solely because of the backing vocals and arrangements, as he's a pretty forgettable rapper. Many of the songs on the CD start out interesting then turn bad as soon as he starts rapping.

Final Grade: C-

tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments

Friday, October 13, 2017

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

12 pictures of your day on the 12th of every month

7:46 AM: Treadmill time while refreshing my memory on season four of Orphan Black.
8:28 AM: Showered and ready for the day.
8:38 AM: Buttermilk Eggos for breakfast.
11:05 AM: Cleaning the house while no children or mothers are underfoot.
11:40 AM: Maia returns from a brisk nature hike with Rebecca.
12:25 PM: Story time.
12:29 PM: Working lunch.
1:32 PM: Using my powers of persuasion to elicit a nap.
3:19 PM: Bottle service.
4:40 PM: Second nature hike of the day for Maia.
6:16 PM: Post-bottle milk coma.
8:00 PM: Preparing suffed peppers for dinner (pre-fab from Costco).

tagged as 12 of 12 | permalink | 0 comments

Monday, October 16, 2017

Weekend Wrap-up

On Friday the 13th in the afternoon, the Uri grandparents came over for a round of babysitting while Rebecca and I flitted off to the wedding of Anya and Matthew in Leesburg. It was a fun, classy affair at the Rust Manor House, with passed hor d'oeuvres and a s'mores construction kit as a wedding favor.

On Saturday morning, we caught the final few minutes of the Reston Farmer's Market (so Rebecca could get her fresh nitrogen-infused ice cream) and then walked the trails of Reston until mid-afternoon. The evening was bath time for Maia, to ensure that no mushrooms were growing in the shade of her neck folds.

On Sunday, I got a little work done in the morning while Rebecca made it to a yoga class. In the afternoon, she and Maia went off to a cousin's wedding shower while I stayed home and took a much-needed nap, followed by up to 3 games of Overwatch (which I hadn't played in over a week!)

How was your weekend?

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 0 comments

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Review Day: Destiny's Conflict by Janny Wurts

There are no spoilers in this review, which is also posted on Amazon.

It has been 22 years since I discovered Curse of the Mistwraith, the first book in the epic Wars of Light and Shadow series that has since become my favourite fantasy series of all time. I discovered Janny Wurts through her collaboration on the Empire trilogy, where I felt that she breathed true emotion, political intrigue, and character development into an otherwise cookie-cutter, two-dimensional universe. Since then, the WoLaS series has invaded my bookshelf like a pleasant plague in triplicate, with hardcovers for armchair reading, paperbacks for loaning, and Kindle copies for rereading the whole series without spraining a muscle.

In my earlier reviews, I used to warn new readers that the prose was challenging -- a unique style full of memorable turns of phrase and Scrabble winners. With 10 books under my belt, I would like to revise my warning in a more positive light: this is a series that is intricately and intentionally designed to reward you for your investment and patience. In the Netflix age where everyone is proud of bingeing content as quickly as possible (only to immediately forget what happened when the next season rolls around), the WoLaS series is one that rewards any reader who can stop and savour the onion-layered prose methodically without speed skimming. As the series progresses, the author continues to paint new context onto seemingly straightforward events from the previous books, deepening and unfolding the world into beautiful complexity, rather than needlessly prolonging the story to infinity with pointless filler plots or deus ex machina devices.

Destiny's Conflict is the second and final part of Arc IV, Sword of the Canon. Each Arc is a self-contained story that may span multiple volumes due to the physical limitation on the size of a bound book. (Because of this separation, reviewers tend to rate the early volumes in an Arc lower when they don't realize that the true climax of the Arc has not yet happened). At a minimum, you should read the first part of Arc IV, Initiate's Trial, before diving in, but of course, the story will be more impactful if you have followed the yarn from the very beginning of Arc I.

I rated Initiate's Trial with 4 stars when I first read it, but with Destiny's Conflict finally available, I would rate the Arc as a whole with 5 well-deserved stars. Destiny's Conflict is a constant stream of climactic events, with the trail of plot dominoes painstakingly set up in Initiate's Trial (and earlier books) satisfyingly toppled in ways that are simultaneously surprising yet clearly choreographed from the beginning. As a vague non-spoilery example, there was a distracting scene in Peril's Gate that I always felt was superfluous to the story which becomes a key facet of Arithon's actions against the Koriathain here.

The plot in Destiny's Conflict constantly moves forward, with critical events happening in every chapter -- the pace will definitely satisfy readers who felt that Arc III moved a little too slowly. The action decelerates a few times for some heavy backstory (in sections I have facetiously branded as "Arithon and Elaira go to the library"), but for fans who have kept up with the story from the beginning, these sections are chock full of the powerful context needed to better appreciate the earlier Arcs.

Please note that my rating and review here are based on my first, fast devouring of the book. As such, I'm absolutely positive that I have not digested every single nuance of the story, especially in the layered conversations that often seem to fill the negative space around the intended point without making it explicit, leaving you room to draw your own interpretations. My subsequent readings will surely highlight the bits I missed the first time around, increasing my appreciation for the book and the series as a whole.

And that, I believe, is the whole point.

For Reference:

  • Arc I: Curse of the Mistwraith (1 binding)
  • Arc II: Ships of Merior (2 books: Ships of Merior / Warhost of Vastmark)
  • Arc III: Alliance of the Light (5 books: Fugitive Prince / Grand Conspiracy / Peril's Gate / Traitor's Knot / Stormed Fortress)
  • Arc IV: Sword of the Canon (2 books: Initiate's Trial / Destiny's Conflict)
  • Arc V: Song of the Mysteries (1 binding, to be written)

tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments

Friday, October 20, 2017

Maia Week #15 Battle Report

Maia is now 15 weeks old, having finally crossed the 13 pound line and once again entered a competitive quartile in the American Ninja Fattening competition. She has discovered her feet and excels at tummy time, consistently holding her head up for longer than an alcoholic hobo on his 12th Steel Reserve.

She still only naps for 30 minutes at a time during the day, but this is counterbalanced by 10 to 11 hour night stretches where she only wakes up once to feed (our longest record night went from midnight to 11:30 AM with a 45 minute feed in the middle). Since it can take up to 45 minutes to get her to nap, it's usually much easier and more efficient to just pop her into the front kangaroo pouch and dance to Funk Jazz until she passes out.

The hardest part at the moment is coming up with enough activities to keep her occupied for the long stretches between naps. Any given activity keeps her happy for up to 10 minutes but there are a limited number of activities to try, especially as it gets colder. This leads to cheat activities like "Look how different Boring Felt Owl looks when I rotate you 90 degrees underneath him!"

One constant that remains worthwhile is nature hiking in Claude Moore Park which is a 5 minute drive away and eats up an hour out of the day. Maia gains superhuman neck strength from looking up into all of the trees and can eventually enjoy the deer, cows, squirrels, and chipmunks. I travel at a slow enough pace that she can nap and listen to the nearby high school marching band play the same 4 bars of Danse Macabre for the 80th time. Sometimes Maia goes twice in a day, once with Rebecca in the morning and once with me when I come on duty after work. Part-time work is going great as well -- this week I wrote a 6 page article about data analytics and cloud architecture then turned off the computer and played "Eat the Toucan's Nose" with Maia.

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

Monday, October 23, 2017

Weekend Wrap-up

On Friday, the first day of our now-regular three-day weekends, we drove down to Fredericksburg to visit with the Ahlbins and their freshly baptized one-month old, Felicity. With a partial tally of sisters and their children present, there were a total of 17 people under the age of 18 present -- had they chosen to overpower the adults and set up their own government, they probably would have succeeded.

Maia had a good time observing the tornado of children, as the scenery at our house is much more placid. We stayed through the evening on Saturday and then made it up I-95 to get home in a surprisingly rapid fashion.

On Sunday, Rebecca taught a lesson on anatomy at a yoga teacher training session through her studio while Maia learned the ins and outs of napping. In the evening, we took a nature walk through Claude Moore, then had a successful dinner at Cafesano -- Maia is pretty good at enduring fast-casual outings but we have not been brave enough to try waiter-style yet.

How was your weekend?

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

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

List Day: Titles I've Held

  • Halley's Comet Trivia Champ

  • Safety Patrol Lieutenant

  • Assistant Gymnastics Instructor

  • Troop Librarian

  • Senior Patrol Leader

  • Junior Assistant Scoutmaster

  • Eagle Scout

  • Stage Crew Foreman

  • Drum Major

  • Work-Study Programmer

  • Marching Band Drill Designer

  • Drum Major Instructor
  • Trumpet Instructor

  • Music Arranger

  • Graphic Designer

  • Website Designer

  • Music Tutor

  • Graduate Teaching Assistant

  • Software Intern

  • Junior Software Engineer

  • Senior Software Engineer

  • Technical Lead

  • Solutions Architect

  • Dad
  • tagged as lists | permalink | 3 comments

    Friday, October 27, 2017

    Costume Day

    I hope this doesn't affect my clearance.

    tagged as media | permalink | 3 comments

    Monday, October 30, 2017

    End-of-the-Month Highlights Day

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

    • Events
      • Celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary on T 10/3 by taking care of some baby.

      • Took Maia to see some old coworkers in Reston and bought a freezer for our doomsday-prepper levels of extra breastmilk on W 10/4.

      • Went to SterlingFest where Rebecca won a raffle prize of $400 worth of hair products that are mostly undecipherable on S 10/7. Then, went to Joe and Katie's for Emma's 2nd birthday party.

      • Started back at Novetta after an eleven month hiatus on T 10/10.

      • Went to Anya and Matt's wedding on F 10/13 while Maia stayed home with some grandparents.

      • Went to the Reston Farmer's Market and ended up walking the trails for two hours on S 10/14.

      • Rebecca and Maia went to Grace's wedding shower while I stayed home and played Overwatch on S 10/15.

      • Stopped by with Maia for an impromptu trip to Grandpa's house on H 10/19.

      • Traveled to Anna's for the weekend on F 10/20.

      • Had Maia meet her Great-Uncle Cork and Aunt Annie on T 10/25.

      • Went to Ghalazey and Michael's Halloween Party dressed as Kim Jung Un, Piglet, and a Workout Instructor on F 10/27.

      • Met Jessika and Rebecca's parents at Lake Anne for the Dog Costume Contest on S 10/28.


    • Projects
      • Went back into the work-world with some florid prose about cloud architectures.

      • Purchased and built a tiny shoe bench for muddy shoes in our foyer.

      • Fixed some creaky floors near the baby's sleep zone.

      • Took care of some baby.

    • Consumerism
      • Got to level 862 in Overwatch.

      • Started seasons of This is Us and Silicon Valley at a langorous pace.

      • Not much new in the new music department this month.

    October's Final Grade: B, busy and tired but running on optimism

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

     

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