02/2018

Friday, February 02, 2018

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Vexed, Season One:
This is a British show in the mismatched-partner-cop genre. It's pleasant enough and has a few good laughs, but doesn't really have anything unique going for it. Had the first season been any longer than 3 episodes, I probably wouldn't have finished it. I might watch the next season once my queue of good shows runs out again but wouldn't prioritize it. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: C+

The Big Sick (R):
I really enjoyed this rom-com movie, mainly because of its realistic, flawed characters and understated drama. It has a good balance of funny and dramatic moments and some great performances (finally something I like Ray Romano in). The feel of this movie is kind of what I hoped for (but didn't receive) from the second season of Master of None. Free on Amazon Prime.

Final Grade: A

Stranger Things, Season Two:
I wasn't over the moon about the first season but gave this one a chance. This season takes over five episodes to build up any watchability (Rebecca abandoned it during episode 5) but actually ends up with a pretty decent pay-off in the end (episode 6, 8, and 9 form a really strong climax). Episode 7 is completely unnecessary and should have been broken up into the "C" story across all of the other episodes. Also, the sound mixing is uniformly horrible -- some old people like hearing all of the dialog without having to turn down the sound at every jump-scare. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: C+

Stardew Valley:
I picked up this Harvest Moon clone on the Nintendo Switch because it seemed like a game that would be calming fun in short bursts. I should have trusted my judgement from the time I owned Harvest Moon on the GameCube, as I'm really not the right audience for it (see also, JRPGs). The game allows you plant a little farm and tend to it and form friendships with a bunch of villagers which would be perfect if I liked casual gaming. However, I found myself getting bored pretty quickly and the multi-minute save time between each "day" didn't help matters out.

Final Grade: C

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Monday, February 05, 2018

Weekend Wrap-up

On Friday, I worked from home in the morning putting together prose about convolutional neural networks then went to the dentist for my six month cleaning. The new dentist is passably good as dentists go and have yet to try to upsell me on teeth whiteners or pinhole surgeries, yet they also want to paint fluoride on my teeth for an extra $30 a visit. I watched Maia in the afternoon while Rebecca got a dress fitted and picked up a growler of beer from Crooked Run South. Maia is now rolling up and down the length of the crib like a really cheap laminator so her naps are unusually active.

On Saturday evening, our neighbours from across the street came over for a bean chili dinner, and Maia got to meet their one-year-old son. They moved in over a year ago, but our ambition to make social plans suffers from overwhelming inertia. After a year of saying "we really should invite them over for dinner sometime", we finally managed to do so!

We had an early morning visit from the traveling Edwardses on Sunday, who braved a light flurry to reach our house. Maia got to meet an almost two-year-old, Owen, on this visit while the rest of us talked about press-ganging West Coast Mike into babysitting for us when we go out to his wedding. In the evening, we had the Super Bowl on in the background while we puttered about and ate leftovers and tater tots.

How was your weekend?

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

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Mobility Day

On Monday night, Maia mastered the "rolling pin" approach to navigating the world.

By 8:46 PM, she was under the coffee table.

tagged as offspring | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, February 09, 2018

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Lovesick, Season Three:
Formerly titled Scrotal Recall, this clever, warm British relationship comedy remains very watchable even though it has now outgrown its original conceit. I felt like this season wallowed a bit, as if they weren't really sure where to go next, yet I still enjoyed watching it as a pleasant way to end the day.

Final Grade: B

Super Mario Odyssey:
This is one of the flagship games for the Nintendo Switch. Other than a game mechanic where you can become different creatures by throwing your cap at them (which is clearly WAY DIFFERENT from getting a leaf out of a question mark block), there is very little originality in the first few worlds of this game. World progression revolves around gathering "moons" which is fine until you realize there are 8 billion moons, some of which are just lying around on the map -- it lessens the enjoyment of any achievement, like a 100-point basketball game versus a tied 1-1 soccer game. There are 9 billion moves that Mario can do, although you'll never need half of them and some of the most important ones can only be done with Wii-like motion controls. I'm only about 6 hours into the game, and yet I find myself bored while playing and lacking any sense of wonderment or fun. I'm not super impressed with the Switch so far. [Note: I also posted an updated review later on.]

Final Grade: C-

Keepsake by Elizabeth and the Catapult:
This indie band's 4th album is great -- mature and polished but still in the same pleasant style as the first 3. After listening to this, I tried to surprise Rebecca with tickets to see them in concert, but disappointingly found out that they played in Vienna two months ago and won't be back anytime soon.

Final Grade: B+

Westworld, Season One:
Based on an old Michael Crichton movie, this show features a theme park full of near-sentient robots where human visitors can be the hero or villain in their own story. I had high hopes since it was made by Jonathan Nolan, the creator of two of my favourites, Memento and Person of Interest. The world and plot are an intricate puzzle box of interlocking, byzantine sub-stories and overarching themes, but it left me cold. After a promising pilot, the remaining nine episodes are a tedious slog where the (2 pretty decent) plot twists are made possible through the intentional muddling of the unclear passing of time. All of the reveals are soggy with vague philosophical monologues or flashback montages with voice-overs, and as an HBO show, there's constant consequence-free violence and dehumanizing nudity. (It's amazing that the obligatory robot orgy scene is held off until episode 5 rather than the pilot). Bottom Line: It's full of big ideas and a decent sci-fi grounding, but lacking in anyone to care about. It felt like an unnecessary prologue for the next season.

Final Grade: C-

tagged as reviews | permalink | 2 comments

Monday, February 12, 2018

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

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

5:34 AM: Showered and ready for work.
6:10 AM: Breakfast in the office.
9:00 AM: Still working.
11:01 AM: Gross weather is gross.
11:35 AM: Lunch and the news.
12:52 PM: Someone's awake from their hour of complaining in the crib.
1:13 PM: Gross lentils are gross.
1:58 PM: Self-play.
3:45 PM: Practicing her couch lunges.
5:14 PM: Mandatory nap time.
8:38 PM: Making dinner.
9:31 PM: Shrimp scampi and the Olympics (note the patented "Keep Maia from watching the Olympics" partition).

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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Stuff In My Drawers Day: Online Dating Profiles

To commemorate 11 years since Rebecca's first email contact with me on February 13, 2007, here is a screenshot of our original Match.com dating profiles from long ago. We showed this as a graphic in our wedding slideshow.

I tried to login to Match to capture the entire profile (including the part under "Ethnicity" where I said there was a little Indian in me and he was delicious) but the site is confusing and over-monetized now, and the text seems to be lost forever.

tagged as media | permalink | 5 comments

Friday, February 16, 2018

Maia Week #32 Battle Report

Maia is 7.36438 months old and 16.4 pounds wide. Mobility-wise, she is on a roll like Evan Jones, but rarely finds the reason or impetus to go anywhere. There's still no crawling or swim-like motions yet but she looks pleased when I make her stand up and lie to her face that she's standing all by herself. She also rolls in her crib, and took her first nap on her stomach on February 1, clearly not familiar with the modern guidelines on how babies should sleep.

Naps in general remain the sticking point in her otherwise pleasant routine. The typical day now looks something like this:

  • Wake for boobs around 8:30 AM.
  • Get put down for a nap at 12:00 PM but usually just cry through it until 1:00 PM.
  • Take a 30 minute nap on me around 3:00 PM at the mall or some other warm flu-ridden big box store.
  • Get put down for a nap at 5:00 PM, cry for 20 minutes then sleep for 40 minutes. Sometimes get 20 more minutes of sleep on me immediately afterwards.
  • Pleasantly and agreeably go to bed for good around 10:30 PM.

Seven-month-olds are supposed to get 13 - 15 hours of sleep and ours refuses to hit 12 because there's just too much amazing stuff in the world to remain sleeping.

As for interests, right now she enjoys eating solids in her high chair, holding her own bottle, visually tracking the cat around the room, observing the chaos of many people milling about, and kicking mom in the face. She is indifferent to the Winter Olympics, just like me.

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

Monday, February 19, 2018

Data Day: Subjects in My Instagram Posts

If you would like to see additional pictures of babies and cats (all of which eventually end up in my Google Photos albums at the end of the month), you can follow me on Instagram. My username is the very clever "brian.uri".

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Time-lapsed Blogography Day: Sixteen Years Ago Today

Sixteen years ago today was Thursday, February 21, 2002.

As a music grad student in Tallahassee, the day opened with Fugue class where we steadily worked through the fugues in the Well-Tempered Clavier (which still sits on my bookshelf today). Afterwards, Kathy, Mark, and I went to Mike's to play Scrabble and pool on his recently-delivered pool table that took up his entire apartment living room. In the evening, Jim Barry joined the 4 of us at Momo's for pizza and the group broke up for the night around 9.

Mark, who also lived in the cinderblock bunker known as Parkwood with me, came back to my apartment to play Conker's Bad Fur Day on the N64. This day was Day One of Mark quitting smoking and he needed some way to distract himself from wanting a cigarette. We played some Conker mini-game that resembled Call of Duty until 2 in the morning, storming a WWII beach with anthropomorphic cartoon squirrels, with Mark periodically interjecting that he could "really go for a cigarette right now".

Here's a picture of Mark, myself, and the MRSA stains on Mike's apartment walls from that era:

tagged as memories | permalink | 3 comments

Friday, February 23, 2018

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Blade Runner (Final Cut) (R):
This is one of those classic movies that I always figured I should watch but never got around to. I went in blind and found that it does not necessarily hold up well against modern movie standards. It's not bad, as minimalist sci-fi goes, but seems to spend more effort on establishing setting rather than story. It also has the Star Wars Episode 4 problem where most of the scenes are actually transitions to other scenes rather than important scenes in their own right -- there's only so many scenes of Harrison Ford walking up some stairs or landing a flying car or trying to convey emotion with a blank facial expression I can take before I start to get bored. The "Final Cut" is a little jarring because it's audibly apparent where new dialogue was added and some scenes restate dialogue from previous scenes verbatim. Overall, not bad, but a little dull compared to the movies one could be watching today. I have Blade Runner 2049 up next to watch (which is the reason I watched the original), but its 2 hr 43 minute running time violates my long movie rule and I'm struggling to get motivated to watch it.

Final Grade: C+

The Good Place, Season One:
This is a pleasant, quirky little sitcom about an awful person who dies and mistakenly gets sent to the good afterlife instead of the bad one. It takes the whimsical fancy of Pushing Daisies and adds a lot more modern snark, resulting in a refreshingly funny show. The plot is allowed to evolve beyond its original premise although the twists and turns may not be hard to guess for people who have turned on a TV in their lifetime. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B+

Attune by Lenka:
A mellow, pleasant outing from Lenka, who seems to have moved towards forgettable soundscapes rather than memorable songs. Great to have on in the background, but not as good as a car CD.

Final Grade: C+

Infant Optics DXR-8 Video Baby Monitor:
When researching baby monitors, I was drawn by an honest review that roughly said, "In a world of shitty baby monitors, this one is pretty okay." The DXR-8 is a little pricy ($160) but not nearly as ridiculous as the ones with unnecessary heartbeat monitors or video poker features. It is great for our needs, with video, audio, and easy controls. The range of camera movement feels a bit constrained sometimes but a non-lazy person could mount it in a different location to overcome that. The video quality is perfect for status checks, and transitions seamlessly between night vision and day vision when clouds roll across the horizon. The monitor also holds a charge away from its docking station while left on all night long. There is a feature to talk to your baby through the camera, which we've shied away from doing so she doesn't get confused about our identities (she already recognizes our conversations with Alexa).

Final Grade: B+

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Monday, February 26, 2018

List Day: 10 Thoughts About Malls

based on highly scientific research from my twice-a-week walk with Maia at the Dulles Town Center

  1. I never hung out at the mall when I was a teen. It was always a highly directed visit to Electronic Boutique or Babbages for a specific item and then back home. So, I have no sentimental attachment to the mall.

  2. The malls are dying and I see no good way to restore them to commercial viability without gutting them and adding more regularly-used community space or residential space. When I visit during a weekday, there are always more people "working" than shopping.

  3. If I were a high school student today and told to get a job, there isn't a more cushy job I can think of than a minimum wage mall job where you can sit on your phone for hours while no one enters your store.

  4. I want more people to go to the mall to increase its commercial viability, just not when I'm there at the same time. When I got there last Monday and realized it was a federal holiday, I almost turned around. For some reason, people actually buy things at JC Penney's during a President's Day sale even when the dollar value has not actually changed.

  5. I thought malls were boring as a kid because the stores were geared towards the people with money. Now I'm old and have money and the stores are still boring and not intended for me.

  6. Dulles Stores that cater to me: Books a Million (in spite of its deceptive "bargain bins" out front), Mind Games, and Popeyes. Runner-up: Gamespot, except the games are all hidden behind refurbished hardware and ugly collectible dolls so it's really just "Spot".

  7. Most frequented Dulles stores by other people: Starbucks and Chick-fil-a.

  8. Least frequented Dulles stores by other people: the African store run by the old white hippie and the store where you can repair your cracked phone screen or buy a pastel phone cover. Clearly, they're money laundering fronts.

  9. There's not a thing in any of the Dulles anchor stores that interests me. Macy's and Lord & Taylor seem to be the same inventory with different names. Nordstrom's is dead, but its whitewalled entrance provides a quiet non-trafficked corner where I can stand with Maia and not get bumped into while I wait for her nap to end.

  10. Sears needs to finish dying already. I remember buying all of my paint in the early days of homeownership from the paint lady at Sears who knew everything about paint until she got yelled at by her boss for taking too long with me and not cycling through the 8 other departments that still had the lights on. Today, the paint department is 4 rows of empty shelves next to an old stand of Christmas trees.

tagged as lists | permalink | 2 comments

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

End-of-the-Month Highlights Day

New photos have been added to the Life, 2018 album. Google Photos sucks.

  • Events
    • Had our neighbours, Aaron, Vanessa, and Jaxon, from across the street over for chili on S 2/3.

    • Welcomed the Edwardses over for a snowy visit on S 2/4.

    • Maia got her flu booster as a 7 month old on T 2/6.

    • Watched the opening ceremonies of the Olympics on F 2/9.

    • Rebecca's parents watched Maia so we could go on a Valentine's weekend date, first to a chocolate-beer pairing at Old Ox Brewery and then to Ford's Fish Shack for an early dinner on S 2/10.

    • Rebecca went to the graduation of the newest batch of yoga teachers from her studio while I took Maia across the street to Jaxon's 1st birthday party on S 2/11.

    • We celebrated Valentine's Day with tasty noodle dishes from Rollplay which Rebecca picked up on her way home from work on W 2/14.

    • We had a family date at Coal Fire Pizza on F 2/16.

    • We had a snowy Olympics viewing party all afternoon with Jessika and Tammy on S 2/17.

    • While settling in for some Overwatch, I spilled a pint of beer all over my keyboard and router on S 2/18. The router ended up working again after a night on the dehumidifier.

    • Went to the mall for a mall-walk on President's Day M 2/19.

    • Enjoyed the 74 degree weather by going to the park on T 2/20, and then got sick for the rest of the week with a sore throat and sinus pressure.

    • Tried out a mechanical keyboard to replace the beer-soaked one on W 2/21 but quickly abandoned it after realizing it would wake up Maia and the dead.

    • Had classic Chinese delivery for dinner on F 2/23.

    • Cancelled a birthday dinner with my parents due to various sicknesses on S 2/24. Rebecca had waffles with Car and Ben. Noticed Maia's first two teeth (on the bottom).

    • Did our taxes on S 2/25. Rebecca and Maia drove Marc home from the airport while I went out for a solo dad date at Miller's again.

    • Maia had her first real cold on T 2/27, clearly caught from dad. Rebecca caught it too. Dad is a trendsetter.

  • Projects
    • No projects of note this month although I wrote about convolutional neural networks for work and planned out some educational intentions for March.

  • Consumerism
    • Had to purchase a new oven (delivered yesterday) since the old one started smelling like burnt insulation whenever we cooked higher than 350 degees.

    • Got to level 1042 in Overwatch. Gave Super Mario Odyssey another good faith shot and got bored after about 8 moons.

    • Enjoyed watching Big Little Lies, Season One and Good Place, Season One.

February's Final Grade: C+, Sickness sucks.

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