09/2018

Monday, September 03, 2018

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything by Kelly and Zach Weinersmith:
This book does a decent job of pairing interesting emerging technologies (like augmented reality, space elevators, and bioprinting) with straightforward explanations and cute cartoons. It starts to lose its luster when it gets too jokey, like the authors think the tech is too boring on its own and readers will lose interest unless there's a neverending selection of humor and bad analogies. These aspects actually reduced my interest in the material and I barely finished the book.

Final Grade: C+

AmazonBasics Laptop Backpack:
Everyone says Amazon is going to take over the world, but no one ever talks about how high quality the AmazonBasics line is for the price. This $24 laptop backpack is sturdily constructed with enough pockets and individual sections for the most organized nerd. I bought it when my Novetta swag tote bag started to wear out and am very happy with how rugged it is.

Final Grade: B+

AmazonBasics Wired Keyboard:
I dislike most "innovations" in keyboards over the last ten years, especially the stupid Dell keyboards at work that have swapped the orientation and position of the Insert / Delete / Home End / Page Up / Page Down area. This $15 keyboard keeps the basic layout intact for maximum muscle memory with only a few minimal additional buttons for those crazy millenials (no one really needs a button to open Windows Groove Media Player). This has been my primary keyboard for gaming and working since that tragic accident with a full tulip of Belgian beer on my keyboard and router back in February, and I like its low profile. I even purchased a second one to leave at work.

Final Grade: B+

Safe, Season One:
This limited miniseries thriller starring Michael C. Hall starts with such a promising build-up of kooky, suspicious characters that I was very worried it would all fall apart in the second act as these shows often do. It doesn't always work -- there are some trite twists and inconsistencies in character ages and times -- but it works more than it doesn't. What I appreciate most is that there is a very workmanlike setup to the main murder mystery that's actually solvable using the clues provided -- no deus ex machina in the last episode for the sake of being edgy that no one would have seen coming. Also, the miniseries definitively ends without a cliffhanger. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B+

tagged as reviews | permalink | 1 comment

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken about 4 years ago, on September 7, 2014.

This was the second day of our final trip to the Outer Banks (although we did not realize it at the time: 2015 was Europe, 2016 was Colorado, and 2017 was picturesque Sterling, VA, so we have yet to return).

This house had a pool, an elevator, and a quick walk across the road in Nags Head to the real beach. Among the common themes of the trip, I recall:

  • Both a horse's head mask and a unicorn's head mask showed up on this trip, giving most evening dinners an equine theme.

  • Recurring Mike (of Mike and Chompy) did not come, because he was hiking up (and then falling back down) Kilimanjaro. We Skyped him later in the week.

  • One night, people decided that shots would be better out of beach shells, leading to the invention of "Shell Shots". We still have the shells in our cabinet.

  • Everyone was obsessed with Hearthstone, so at least 40% of the trip involved people sitting around the massive dining room table logged into their computers.

tagged as memories | permalink | 0 comments

Friday, September 07, 2018

Maia Month #14 Battle Report

Maia is now 14 months old but still has not breached the 20 pounder glass ceiling. She is still cruising but not walking and has no problem going up and down stairs with minimal chance of self-inflicted falls. Her new favourite mode is "cranky", where the power of her ideas and wants and needs are muted by her inability to communicate in Shakespearean language resulting in the most annoying sound in history, the whine.

Maia is very good at mimicking now (she'll probably be a booby-trapped Dungeons and Dragons chest for Halloween) and will try to recreate the things you do around her. The other day, I peeked in on her solo nursery time to find her waving the window drape sashes against the drapes, because that's how we secure the drapes after nap time every day. She also put a set of pajamas on her head in a class clown act and got such a good reaction from the grandparents that she did it again several more times over the next days. I'm currently trying to teach her to lie quietly on my chest like Booty so I can take a nap (she has already mastered "RELAX" as a command to crash onto a pillow and say "Ahhhh").

Our days and weeks have fallen into a regular pattern, with trips to the air-conditioned abandoned mall to beat the humidity and rare walks around Lake Anne or Claude Moore when it's cooler. I try to entertain her and turn her into a better person on the first two days that Rebecca works and then merely try to survive on the third. We try to make sure that Rebecca can get to yoga a couple times a week for her sanity, and sometimes stop by at the end of the practice for a family dinner out. Next month, things should shift around yet again as I increase my work hours up to 30 while Rebecca drops to just about 12 hours per week. At that point, I will probably be classified as a SAHDINO, and Rebecca will have to learn to do Pinterest toddler crafts.

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

Monday, September 10, 2018

Beat Saber Day

Since the treadmill broke down, Beat Saber has been my regular cardio workout. Here are a few recent videos of some of the more challenging songs.

Can't Stop the Feeling by Justin Timberlake (Expert) (previously posted)

The Nights by Avicii (Expert)

Gangam Style by Psy (Expert)

Otter Pop featuring Hollis by Shawn Wasabi (Expert+)

New Rules by Dua Lipa (Expert+)

tagged as games | permalink | 1 comment

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

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

6:20 AM: Showered and ready for work.
7:03 AM: Working from home today.
8:34 AM: Good morning!
8:57 AM: Breakfast while reading Fear: Trump in the White House
9:14 AM: No pan is safe.
9:48 AM: Grilling premade dinners for our newly un-pregnant neighbours while also hurricane-proofing the deck.
11:21 AM: Working lunch.
12:06 PM: Reading with the grandparents.
1:06 PM: Naptime Beat Saber workout.
3:12 PM: Putting on my socks so we can go out.
4:14 PM: Swinging at Lake Anne.
7:51 PM: Lasagna for dinner.

tagged as 12 of 12 | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, September 14, 2018

(Almost) Birth Day

permalink | 2 comments

Monday, September 17, 2018

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

The Woman Who Smashed Codes by Jason Fagone:
This is a biography of Elizebeth Smith Friedman, one of the first cryptoanalysts in the early 20th century. It's rare that a person's life is as interesting throughout as Elizebeth's, leading the biography to be a more comprehensive look at her place in history rather than a set of vignettes separated by long time jumps. There are also great, shallow looks at the world events going on at the same time, revealing some interesting stories such as J. Edgar Hoover's concerted efforts to steal credit for her work for the FBI.

Final Grade: B+

Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward:
This is a fairly dry look at the Trump administration through the lens of various policy decisions (North Korea, trade agreements, DACA). The chapters meander along with abrupt transitions that make the content feel more like attention-deficit vignettes than an end-to-end narrative but also mimic how the administration lurched along in real life. The book does not paint a flattering portrait of Trump (depicting him as someone in way over his head who never actually expected to win, rather than an evil mastermind). It's sometimes clear who some of the deep background sources were, based on how sympathetically they're described in the text, and the way quotation marks are used on sourced dialogue but not on deep background dialogue can get confusing.

Final Grade: B-

The 100, Season Five:
The time jump freshens up the plot and perspectives nicely here, and the writers have finally gotten a little better at writing morally grey characters that change their minds for actual reasons (other than, "I'm a teenager in a love triangle"). The "main" main character, Clarke, is still generally unlikable and uninteresting but the rest of the plot and cast make up for it. I enjoyed this season although the shake-up in the finale may be one shake-up too far. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B+

The Good Place, Season Two:
The tagline on the box, "How long can they keep this up?", was my thought after finishing the great first season of this show. The show continues to evolve beyond its original conceit, with the germ for an entire network show season compressed into just the first few episodes (the first episode of season two is the weakest for exactly this reason). This remains a warm, absurd show where the plot really just functions as a backdrop for great jokes about pop culture and human nature. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B+

tagged as reviews | permalink | 3 comments

 

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