07/2018

Monday, July 02, 2018

List Day: Songs in My Head

I once mentioned that the Carnival of Venice pops into my head every night before bedtime, filling up an otherwise unused channel in my multichannel brain. If I'm not listening to active music, this channel is immediately populated with random songs from the past, none of which I otherwise listen to with any kind of regularity. Here is a list of the most common songs that pass through my brain at least once per day, and usually more often.

  1. La Rejouissance from Handel's Royal Fireworks Music

  2. The minor section of the 3rd movement of the Hummel Trumpet Concerto

  3. Sally's Song from Nightmare Before Christmas

  4. This level theme from Super Mario Bros 3

  5. Penguin Race from Super Mario 64

  6. The combat music from Ultima Underworld

  7. The startup music from The Bard's Tale II

  8. Bread Man from my high school's pep band book

  9. A pep band song I wrote called Giblets

  10. This musical fragment from elementary school that I don't even know the name of anymore

What's going on in your brain today?

tagged as lists, music | permalink | 2 comments

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Movie Day

Happy Fourth of July! Enjoy this low-effort backlog of recent videos!

Maia plays for you the song of her people

BU dances to JT in Beat Saber

Maia's first dance party

tagged as media | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, July 06, 2018

Maia Day

tagged as offspring, media | permalink | 4 comments

Monday, July 09, 2018

New Cert Day

Now that I've acquired the six main path AWS certifications, I'm on the lookout for new certifications that I can pass without much studying effort. If you know of any certification exams that match these skills from my current skillset, please let me know:

  1. Once drove home from Fredericksburg to Sterling in 71 minutes by way of I-95 N.

  2. Earned an epic PvP mount as a level 59 priest in World of Warcraft in 2006.

  3. Can still play the entire Marching Virginians 1st Trumpet playbook (circa 2000) from memory.

  4. Can consistently park in the same spot in front of the house (with a margin of error of about 2 inches) by triangulating tree trunks, in order to leave room for the mailman, the trashcans, and a 2nd guest parking spot.

  5. Killed two Widowmakers in less than 3 seconds with Mei icicle headshots in Overwatch in 2016.

  6. Can recite from memory the General MIDI patch numbers for all orchestral instruments (59 is the Tuba).

  7. Once attained 100.0% code coverage on a non-trivial Java project.

  8. Have read The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin over 20 times.

  9. Can devise an accurate "lovechild" profile of any actor or actress based on their looks (Jason Sudeikis is the lovechild of John Krasinski and Ed Helms).

  10. Can ruin birthday surprises by accurately guessing what the present is without even touching the wrapped gift.

tagged as lists | permalink | 0 comments

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Sinfonia Pop by Mika:
This DVD is a delightful live concert of Mika performing with orchestral accompaniment. The conductor is also the arranger, and allows Mika's songs to exist away from Mika's normal electronica. Great performances all around, including the little peppy backup singer who is clearly having a ball. For example, here's the song, Grace Kelly, as originally recorded and orchestrally arranged.

Final Grade: A

3%, Season Two:
I really enjoyed this season (though I could only watch it during Maia naps where I could pay attention to the Portuguese subtitles). The story grows organically from the simple baseline set out in the first season and focuses on four characters with clear, complex motivations that don't just change their mind to further the plot (unlike The 100). There's great interplay between the leads and good progression towards the season's conclusion, albeit with a few too many dream sequences. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B+

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Season Three:
It took us a long time to get through this season. The story went where it had to go, but it's hard to laugh at the continued absurdity when things like attempted suicide are also in the mix. The main character morphs from someone doing crazy things that you can laugh along with into someone with more awareness of the bad things she does to other people (yet continues to do them anyhow). The songs, though fewer, are still pretty fun. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B-

KT Tunstall at Wolf Trap:
We saw KT Tunstall (followed by Better Than Ezra and Barenaked Ladies) at Wolf Trap on July 2 in the worst, clammy heat possible. We bumped into Larry and Janice at the concession stand (as fans of the headliners) and took our yuppy pavilion seats with a good view of the proceedings. KT Tunstall was great in person and worth the price of admission. Better Than Ezra was fine -- engaging performers playing music I'm not particularly enthralled by. BNL were also good, although I'm not a huge fan of their music either. We left about halfway through the BNL performance to relieve the grandparent babysitters, but not before a fun duet between KT Tunstall and BNL.

Final Grade: B+

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Friday, July 13, 2018

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

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

6:17 AM: Showered and ready for work.
6:32 AM: Breakfast.
6:46 AM: In the home office, ready to write about things and stuff.
10:05 AM: Good morning!
12:10 PM: This is a robbery. Hand over the adult food.
12:28 PM: Spoons are for wusses.
1:15 PM: Afternoon Beat Saber workout while Maia naps.
3:05 PM: Bottle service before a trip to grandma's house.
5:03 PM: Maia performs a magic trick. (Those flowers used to be a rabbit).
5:55 PM: New stairs to conquer.
7:31 PM: Home from grandma's, exhausted and disheveled but possessing a tin of Toasted Oats.
8:46 PM: Guess who's home!

tagged as 12 of 12 | permalink | 1 comment

Monday, July 16, 2018

Weekend Wrap-up

Rebecca has a permanent 4-day weekend in her schedule now from Friday to Monday, which is pretty awesome for her. On Friday, she took the morning to go to a new yoga studio with Kathy while I stayed home and worked and Maia hung out with her maternal set of grandparents. In the evening, we went to Mellow Mushroom for dinner for delicious hoagies and pizzas.

On Saturday, Rebecca met Ben and Andrea, up visiting from Cary, North Carolina, at the Lake Anne Farmer's Market. Everyone came back to our house after the market so the babies could play together, and Amelia spent the period poking a tired Maia in the eyeball. After a well-deserved long nap, Maia got to swim around our new kiddie pool on the deck. We invited the across-the-street neighbours over so their son could also be in the pool (no eye poking occurred) and had burgers with colby jack cheese.

On Sunday, Rebecca tried yet another new yoga studio, this time in Reston, while I organized the living room. In the afternoon, we re-organized the entire kitchen for maximum efficiency (following such common best practices as "put all the baby junk in consecutive drawers for maximum network throughput" and "move the fajita kit to the top shelf since we never make fajitas").

How was your weekend?

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

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Data Day: Maia's First Year

Milestones

  • Social Smiling: 2 months
  • Foot Grabbing: 3 months
  • First Laughs: 3 months
  • First Solid Food: 4.5 months
  • Sitting Up: 5.5 months
  • Clapping: 6 months
  • First Airplane Flight: 8.5 months
  • First Teeth: 8.5 months
  • Crawling: 9 months
  • Drinking Through a Straw: 9.5 months
  • Cruising: 10 months
  • First Word In Context ("Dada"): 10.5 months
  • Upwards Stair Mobility: 11 months

Here's how Maia's height, weight, and head circumference stack up against her peers:

Key takeaways: Maia will be small like her parents and her head's not going to be nearly as big as initially expected.

tagged as data, offspring | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, July 20, 2018

Random Thoughts About the Internet

In its current iteration, I think the Internet has a net negative effect on humanity. This wasn't always the case -- I miss the early days of the World Wide Web when its naive potential was not overshadowed by monetary value. The Internet was weird because people are weird and there was plenty of unique content to stumble across even within a fairly limited number of sites. You could connect with strangers through homepages, forums, and chatrooms and form all sorts of relationships without any pre-existing connection other than a shared interest.

Now that the Internet is well-established and over-populated, SEO, advertising, and eyeballs and clicks are the name of the game. Individuality has gone away. There is still a vast trove of information out there, but it's hard to discover it all when everything is curated by the biggest providers. Getting noticed requires gaming the system or being the loudest voice in a sea of other loud voices, reducing the overall level of discourse.

An example of this can be seen on a site like Reddit, where a small "subreddit" of people with a common interest can connect and converse. Once the number of subscribers crosses a certain threshold, posts start to devolve from interesting topics that spur discussion towards cheap memes that aim to get the maximum number of upvotes with as little effort as possible. To a lesser extent, you can see it in MMOs, where the best friendships were fostered in the 90s and early 2000s. When I start an MMO these days, I no longer have the patience to invest in making new friends or joining a new guild. After a brief flirtation with all of the soloable content in the MMO itself, I generally end up switching games to keep playing with the gaming friends I already have.

One paradoxical area where the Internet is having a negative effect is creativity. It's a well-known fact that everything artistic has already been done by someone else before. With the Internet, it's much easier to find this prior art and much harder to carve out your own space and not get dismissed as a copycat. I used to write a column on the URI! Zone called Newsday Tuesday where I would mock current events or news articles. Towards the tail end of those columns, it was getting to the point where any clever joke I might think up independently was already trending on Twitter from a late-night talk show host or found in the comments section of the real article. I'm glad I came of age as a composer in yesteryear, because I would probably be too intimidated to put myself out there today.

The Internet today weaponizes a massive push towards homogeneity, where the "right" answer is the one most broadly promoted, not necessarily the correct one or the one most people agree with. Social brigading has never been easier, as it just takes a well-written sob story to raise a fleeting sense of outrage in a pitchfork-wielding mob. I remember reading blogs years ago where any popular author could play the victim and instantly have a well-meaning, misguided pack of readers ready to defend them (this social interplay has been on my list of topics to blog about since 2004 but I'm lazy). Nowadays at scale, all it takes is a single-misguided tweet and thousands of people are up in arms and ready to vilify someone or some business. Is the conflict grounded in truth? No one has the time or inclination to do the research!

tagged as deep thoughts | permalink | 6 comments

Monday, July 23, 2018

Extra Baby Picture Day

For everyone who wants more baby pictures.

The last hurrah for the YAY balloon, which held shape for over a year before starting to melt down the wall like a Dali painting.

Maia is used to the Tallest Grandpa now and doesn't cry when he enters the room.

An afternoon walk along Holmes Run in Alexandria.

Maia excels at following directions.

tagged as offspring, media | permalink | 0 comments

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken 3 years ago today, on July 25, 2015.

On our last day in Munich, we rented bikes for a free range exploration of the northeastern part of the city. We chose this area because it was covered by an expansive park (the ironically named Englischer Garten, or "English Garden") and reduced the chance of being run over by a car in the tight windy streets.

In the middle of the park, equidistant from two Biergartens, we stumbled upon this flock of sheep, and naturally, we had to communicate with them.

tagged as memories | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, July 27, 2018

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

A Very English Scandal:
This three-part mini-series features Hugh Grant as a member of Parliament who has a gay affair and tries to cover it up very poorly. It has a fun voice and pace, although it starts to lose some momentum in the middle act with too many leaps ahead in time. Free on Amazon Prime.

Final Grade: B-

Atlanta, Season One:
This show, created by the multitalented Donald Glover, gets a lot of non-mainstream hype. However, I liked the show it started out as more than the show it turned out to be -- over its short (10 episode) first season, plot emphasis drains away, replaced by a set of one-off episodes trying random things (kind of like a black Master of None). The DVD is bare bones, with no special features or even subtitles. I'd watch the second season, but am in no hurry to get to it.

Final Grade: B-

To Ride Hell's Chasm by Janny Wurts:
I first read this book back in 2004 and while it was enjoyable, I didn't like the back half as much as the front half, and never read it again. After 14 years, I like it much more. The book starts with a simple premise of a missing princess and two men-at-arms from very different stations investigating her disappearance. The plot is very tightly paced, with a fast burn and a total timespan of just a few days. There is a distinct point about 60% of the way through the book where the focus closes in on just two characters. In my first readthrough, I was disappointed because I really wanted more time with the other characters that were so well-crafted. Tempered by foreknowledge this time around, I appreciated the change of pace and thought that the ending was just right.

Final Grade: B+

Amazon Echo (2nd Generation):
We got this second Echo on sale over Christmas so we could have one Echo in the kitchen and one in the nursery. The 2nd generation Echo is much shorter and covered in decorative material. This may be why it's incredibly hard of hearing compared to the original. It understands our commands about 80% of the time and background noise lowers this further. Where I can just tell the old Echo to play Lenka, this one keeps asking me if I want to create a station for Lincoln Park -- any good AI would know that NO ONE wants that station. On the plus side, the ability to play synchronized music throughout both Echos is very convenient.

Final Grade: B

tagged as reviews | permalink | 1 comment

Monday, July 30, 2018

End-of-the-Month Highlights Day

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

  • Events
    • Introduced Maia to her new backyard kiddie pool on S 7/1 and had a solo Dad Date at Miller's for dinner.

    • Saw KT Tunstall, Better than Ezra, Barenaked Ladies, and Larry and Janice at Wolf Trap on M 7/2.

    • Rebecca started a new work schedule with 4 day weekends on T 7/3.

    • Went to Taylorstown for the traditional 4th, complete with thunderstorm, on W 7/4.

    • Celebrated Maia's first birthday with grandparents on F 7/6, then went out for a beer flight at Ocelot Brewing followed by frozen custard.

    • Tried hiking with Maia in Algonkian and got destroyed by mosquitos on S 7/7. Had the Jacksons over for dinner and VR in the evening.

    • Had burgers on the back porch on S 7/8.

    • Took Maia to visit the Uri grandparents on H 7/12.

    • Rebecca went to Kathy's yoga studio on F 7/13 and lost her favourite water bottle. Had Mellow Mushroom for dinner.

    • Visited with Ben, Andrea, and Amelia at the Farmer's Market on S 7/14. Had Aaron, Vanessa, and Jax over for a kiddie pool party in the evening.

    • Rebecca had an unexpected day off on W 7/18. Maia visited her at her yoga studio, then we had dinner at O'Faolain's after the sad discovery that Cheng's had gone out of business.

    • Visited the Uri grandparents with Maia on H 7/19 and walked around Holmes Run.

    • Had another yoga visit - dinner date with the family on F 7/20 (Miller's).

    • Went to Anya and Matt's baby shower in Purcelville on S 7/21.

    • Had Tammy over for dinner (chicken in sour cream) on S 7/22.

    • Yet another Uri grandparents visit with Maia on H 7/26.

    • Had Car and Ben over for dinner on F 7/27 (weird pasta in a heavy cream sauce).

    • Had a backyard pool party with Maia on S 7/28. Followed it up with Siam Spice for dinner.

    • Went to Cascades Overlook for dinner at Poke Sushi Bowl on S 7/29.

    • Visiting a visiting Mark and family at Chris and Kathy's house on T 7/31.

  • Projects
    • Got the last of my AWS certs for the next two or three years on S 7/8.

    • Transferred from the Mission Solutions - Entity Analytics division to the Corporate Business Development division on T 7/10. I'm officially a corporate stooge now.

    • Reorganized the kitchen cabinets for maximum efficiency on S 7/15.

    • Updated my resume to be database-driven instead of a flat file so I don't have to redeploy the URI! Zone every time I earn another AWS cert.

  • Consumerism
    • Upgraded the VR rig to a GTX 1080 after a brief period of weak graphics cards following the lightning storm debacle. Played a mix of Beat Saber, Moss, Diablo 3, and Rise of the Tomb Raider this month.

    • No new music or TV shows of note this month.

July's Final Grade: B, slow and steady wins the race

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