10/2019

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken 10 years ago today, on October 2, 2009.

We were rehearsing our wedding ceremony at Sunset Hills Vineyard in Purcellville, under the direction of Reverend Leslie Chadwick. Not pictured is Vegas Mike, who was busy trying to hang tulle fabric on a flimsy metal archway while being thwarted by the uneven ground, tulle-catching wind, and afternoon heat.

Following Mike's battle with Earth, Wind, and Fire, we practiced walking down an invisible aisle for a few minutes and then traveled to a local restaurant in Leesburg for the traditional rehearsal dinner. The next day, we got married!

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Friday, October 04, 2019

Tenth 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 | 2018 | 2019

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

Monday, October 07, 2019

Maia Battle Report: Year 2 Month 3

Maia has grown about an inch since her 2nd birthday and is now solidly over 23 pounds. She is learning about the days of the week and starting to recognize letters and numbers in isolation. She still counts "1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10", but I prefer to think that she's just experimenting with exponents in some advanced way. She's starting to gain spatial awareness too -- when I told her we were going to drive to the grocery store, she said, "We gonna pass Maia's school!". She recognizes the outside of restaurants without prompting, based on the type of cartoon cup her milk comes in. "WE AT THE VEE! I GONNA GET DINOSAUR CUP."

"Just for 2s" school is going well: Maia has made art representing A for Ant and B for Bird, as well as the obligatory handprint poem and an "All About Me" pizza. In terms of activities, she regularly gets out into nature through "Free Forest School" with Rebecca on Fridays and "Free Activities With No One Dad Has To Talk To" every afternoon with me. She has also gone fishing in the park with her friend, Nolan, and family.

Maia is at the stage where crying is super cute rather than grating -- there have been no true tantrums for a long time, and her disappointment usually fades quickly. At bedtime and naptime, her hour-long story hour before falling asleep persists, but is now intelligible. For the most part, she makes up stories using bits and pieces of her day. I try to write choice phrases on the whiteboard and am hoping to commit one afternoon to a full transcription for fun. Among the things I've heard so far from the confines of her crib:

  • "I gonna do numbers. 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10! 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10! 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10!"
  • *clap clap* "I clappin' my hands."
  • "Here come the cats. Those cats came on a boat! Helloooo, cats!"
  • "I fishin'. Cast! Cast! I caught a fish!"
  • "This unicorn is smiling!"
  • "Christmas Cat standing on Snoopy. He tall!"

Life is going very well for the rest of us. I have a great schedule at work where I can pick assignments that best fit my available time where I think I can contribute the most. I'm starting to reserve more time for exercise and relaxing in the afternoons and am definitely not as tired in the evenings as I was in the first two years of Maia.

I don't grill as much as I once did because broiling is so much easier with a toddler underfoot. I may experience the shame of having a propane tank last longer than a year for the first time in the history of grilling.

How are your genetic heirs doing?

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

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Montreal Day

For our tenth anniversary, we doubled the big blind by heading north to our second-favourite Canadian city, Montreal. We last visited here in July 2012 when the city was burgeoning with music festivals simply because the Montreal natives were happy to be outside with no frostbite imminent.

Montreal is a highly accessible vacation destination, with direct 1.5 hour flights from VA airports and an efficient subway and bus system. There's just enough French to feel exotic, but everyone speaks perfect English and all signs are in both languages. The only big change from our previous trip was the city-wide revitalization project which detoured our airport bus through Nunavut and closed entire city blocks for sewer and street repairs.

We flew in on Saturday around 1 and reached Hotel Le Dauphin by 3. We spent the afternoon trekking aimlessly through the city, as we are wont to do, and Rebecca bought a warm hat to protect her from the 50 degree temperatures at a kiosk in Chinatown. (The pom pom on top fell out in less than 24 hours). In the evening, we had dinner at a local Ramen restaurant where the chefs were rolling out massive lengths of dough to the delight of every single passerby with a smartphone. The night's entertainment was a three-arrangement contemporary dance show by the Ballets Jazz de Montreal (we went on a whim after finding no music festivals in progress). The dances were impressive although we have been spoiled by Cirque du Soleil and expected more acrobats and death-defiance.

On Sunday, we navigated (by subway and bus) to the top of Mont Royal, Montreal's local mountain. It's less than 1000 feet tall, but apparently people get offended if you call it a hill. We walked the well-maintained trails with the locals and enjoyed the view from the Chalet.

After lunch crepes, we wandered Old Montreal in search of cathedrals, art galleries, and other diversions. Dinner was at Modavie, a mildly-upclass restaurant with great food and ambience. We ate deer osso buco and steak tartare while listening to unannoying jazz performed by a guitar and keyboard duo.

On Monday, our last day, we hit the Redpath Museum on the campus of McGill University, an eclectic collection of oddities donated over the years. We then wondered if we could pass as college students anymore (perhaps if I got some thicker-framed glasses and hipster jeans). After a lunch of more noodles (Rebecca had a cold and this was the cure), we made it back to the airport for some last-minute poutine and returned to Virginia around 10 PM.

Meanwhile, Maia had fun with her new Knuffle Bunny.

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

Friday, October 11, 2019

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Stranger Things, Season Three:
Finally, a season of Stranger Things I can stand behind. There's no bloat or unnecessary episodes and the pacing kept my interest from episode 1. The show transcends its traditional overreliance on 80s nostalgia to tell a compelling coming-of-age story full of humor and fun characters. The homages (like an episode featuring horror movie tropes in an under-construction hospital) are still there, but serve the story rather than overshadowing it. Winona Ryder is finally given something to do besides freaking out about a missing child.

This season is worth a watch even if you don't totally remember everything that happened up until now. It functions well as a trilogy ender if there are no more seasons coming, in spite of a very minor cliffhanger after the final credits. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: A-

Interpreting the Masters, Volume 2: A Tribute to Van Halen by Bird and the Bee:
I'm not sure if the world needed an indie re-imagining of songs from Van Halen, but it is what it is. There's nothing wrong with any of them, but they all feel a little forgettable. I'd rather get an album of new original material.

Final Grade: C

Money Heist, Part Two:
This is a perfect treadmill show -- interesting enough to make me want to exercise, but not so good that I want to binge it. Part Two has a few good twists and builds the tension well, although there are a few too many flashbacks and repeated scenes to pad it out. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B

Between Two Ferns: The Movie:
This movie is based on the webseries where Zack Galifianakis asks weird, insulting questions to real movie stars that don't appear to be in on the joke. The awkward, Andy Kaufman-esque humour is intact, although the road trip storyline that glues all of the interviews together here feels obligatory and not as funny. The best part of the movie is actually the 10 minutes of outtakes at the end where the movie stars can't help but to laugh at the ridiculous questions. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B-

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Monday, October 14, 2019

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

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

6:13 AM: Showered and ready for some early morning work.
7:18 AM: Breakfast.
9:00 AM: She woke up and quietly started reading a book this morning.
10:55 AM: Not happy about the missing piece in this Goodwill puzzle. "Daddy, find it."
11:41 AM: Sitting in on the stool of an animal at SterlingFest 2019.
12:15 PM: Petting zoo.
1:14 PM: The best part of SterlingFest.
2:38 PM: Exercising and rewatching Serenity.
5:34 PM: Simultaneously prepping dinner and poker foods.
6:33 PM: Someone won this interesting sweater in a SterlingFest raffle!
7:50 PM: Poker Night.
8:25 PM: Larry is first to go out, with pocket Kings. (Final Ranking-- 1: Larry taking over for Jack's stacks, 2: Chris, 3: Rebecca, 4: BU, 5: Kathy, 6: Larry)

tagged as 12 of 12 | permalink | 0 comments

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Proof of Genius Day

In the early months when Maia started growing attached to a particular bedtime bunny, I wisely purchased a second one online as insurance in case we accidentally left a bunny somewhere or it had a catastrophic encounter with a campfire. Since then, backup bunny has also functioned as a nice way to throw one bunny into the laundry and seamlessly replace it with Maia none the wiser.

Unfortunately, the backup bunny is not an exact match with the original. On our most recent sleight-of-hand attempt (over a year later), Maia noted, "Bunny opened his eyes!" It's a good thing she still loves both.

tagged as offspring | permalink | 0 comments

Friday, October 18, 2019

Review Day: The Red Knight by Miles Cameron

There are no major spoilers in this review.

The Red Knight (Book 1 of 5 in the Traitor Son Cycle) is a master class in weaving multiple points of view together into a satisfying convergence of plot, suspense, and character development. This master class isn't for everyone, however, spanning three whole semesters and requiring much more concentration than you might be used to in your fantasy reading. The book tells the tale of a mercenary company that accepts a contract to protect a convent of nuns and finds themselves in the midst of a siege between humans and the creatures of "The Wild", a catch-all stereotype for varied races in the North deemed (by humans) to be primitive and beast-like. The story effectively blends the raw, martial depiction of war with an interesting magic system and a feudal-like social and religious system.

The Red Knight functions equally well as a standalone and a lead-in to the rest of the series (which I have not read yet). Sufficient reveals are included to make the mysteries in this book feel complete without cliffhangers, but enough hints to a broader conflict exist to lead into later books. The most difficult aspect of enjoying this story is the sheer number of characters involved. While the language is very easy to process, characters surface for a few pages at a time before vanishing, sometimes given different names, nicknames, or (in the case of The Wild) species names depending on the current POV.

The old adage that people can only remember 7, plus or minus 2, bits of information at a time holds true here. I originally purchased this on Kindle and the fact that I would regularly forget that I had already been introduced to a character led to tedious bookmarking and searching to refresh my memory (and I read pretty fast!). Ironically, switching to the paperback edition did not help because it was deckle-edged and impossible to flip back in search of where I had heard of a character before. If you are willing to keep a notepad handy and record the pages / locations where characters are first introduced, your overall reading experience will be much friendlier.

The book is not without flaws -- some readers (myself included) will get distracted by the number of minor editing errors, like the use of it's vs. its, or odd run-on sentences that a generous reader might dismiss as attempts to create a unique dialect. Characters will often do an action like "raised his hand" or "sat down", only to do it again just one sentence later. There is constant confusion in the use of east and west, which is particularly noticeable since there is no printed map included in the book. For people that like to build a mental map in their head, this makes the relationship between the location of the convent and other cities in the world more difficult to piece together.

There are also an exorbitant number of details about combat moves and expertise in weapons and armor. I understand that the author has plenty of real-world expertise in these topics, but they felt overproven and sometimes read like a pedantic D&D dungeon master. After finishing, I was very impressed that no scene felt unnecessary, although many scenes could clearly have been tightened by a good editor. This is a 500 page story in a 650 page book.

In spite of these flaws, the implied relationships between characters and Rube Goldberg-esque trickle of events towards a common conclusion are tantalizing and kept me reading. Most characters are fairly two-dimensional with a few memorable traits (like "this one likes to eat a lot"), but they work well within the world to propel the plot forward. By the time the last "main" character had been introduced about halfway through the book, I had no choice but to eagerly see how it all turned out. And by the time I reached the end, I felt as tired as the depicted knights and squires, who fought The Wild in a perpetual state of exhaustion throughout the siege.

Final Grade: B-

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Monday, October 21, 2019

Stream of Consciousness Day

an accurate transcript of the things Maia says to herself as she falls asleep

2:07 PM

*door closes* My eyes get better. My eyes get better. My eyes get better. My eyes got better. My eyes get better. My eyes get better. My eyes get better. Sap. Shoot. One dalbation. My eyes got better. Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday to dog. Happy Birthday to Bunny. Happy Birthday to K'nuffle Bunny. Wall. Walk. I got present. Hingy ing ging. Woom woom. Happy Birthday to you. Nolan is gonna drive! Drive! Happy Birthday to Nolan. Happy Birthday to Nolan. Tickle tickle! Happy Birthday to Bunny. Shoop shoop shoop.

*picks up book, 101 Dalmations* One dalbation! Spot! Spot! Spot! Spot! Spot! Spot! Spot! Spot! Spot! Spot! Spot! One. Hundress. One Hundress. Live in a big house. 1, 2, 3, 6. 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 6, 7. Get em! Get em! Woof! Woof! Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof! 1, 2, 3. Yip yip! Get up puppies! I found! RIGHT back to the barn. Woof! Woof! The dalbation puppies are found! MEOWWWWWWWW! On his head. On Jax's head. Oh there too many. Yeah. 1, 2, 3, she got em! *closes book* I did dalbation book. Whoa.

2:23 PM

Old McDonald had a fwarm. And there dalbations. 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 6, 7, 8, 9! Spooky old house! 1! 1! Dalbation Old McDonald had a fwarm. Old McDonald had fwarms, he had some kitty cats said, MEOW MEOW. Old McDonald had a -- he has a dog there woof woof woof. Come on, Jax. Old McDonald had a fwarm, had moo men there. Woof! Old McDonald had a fwarm, had some horses there. NEIGH NEIGH NEIGH. Old McDonald had a -- he had some dogs there, Old McDonald had a -- he had some kitty cats there, MEOW MEOW. Old McDonald had a puppies, WOOF WOOF. Old McDonald had a 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 6, 7, 8. Old McDonald had 7, 8, 9, 10, 7, 8, 9, 10, 6. Old McDonald had a fwarm, Old McDonald had a wog wog GAS! Woof woof.

Old McDonald had a fwarm, it said some big doggies said WOOF WOOF WOOF. WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF. WOOF. They send a message, WOOF! Old McDonald puppies, yeah. Old McDonald had a fwarm, it had a horse say NEIGH NEIGH, it had a dog say WOOF WOOF, it had a cat say MEOOW. Old McDonald had a fwarm. He had some puppies. Old McDonald puppies. They raced back to barn, WOOF WOOF. Old McDonald had a fwarm, it had little WOOF WOOF WOOF. Old McDonald had a fwarm, he had the dogs. Oh yeah. Old McDonald had a fwarm, he had some horses there. NEIGH NEIGH. Old McDonald had a fwarm, he had a kitty cat says MEEEW MEEEOW. Old McDonald had a fwarm, he had a doggies. Woof woof. Big woof. Big dog. Old McDonald had a fwarm, he had two big blue men. Old McDonald had a fwarm, he had a kitty cat, hey! He had a langy angy! He had a bird. He had a langy angy kitty catty, it went WING WING WING. This is right there!

2:34 PM

Eeee. Eek! Eek! I said Eek! Eek. Eek. Eek. Eek. Eek. Eek. Eek! Eeks. *peels ancient spine off of 101 Dalmations* Whee! I got a flag! It's racing back and forth. I'm watching the tree! I'm watching the trees! I'm watching with the mice. Old McDadDog had a fwarm. WOHEEEEE THE MICE FOUND THE BONE. Whoa! Way wag around. Way wag around. The dog came. I went up, up, up, up. Dog on rule, puppies. Dog in the room. *shrieks and rolls away from book*

Doo doo dung dung, dinga dinga dung dung dung, dinga dinga dung dung dung, dinga dinga dung dung dung, dinga dinga dung dung dung. Dinga dinga ding. Dunga dunga dung. Dunga dunga dung dingy. Dunga. Dingy dung. I'm walking right in here. *grabs broken spine again* Look my flag waves! It waves! I'm walking. I'm blowing up my teeth. I broke my book. NOW IT IS FIXED. It not fixed. I'm riding on my horse. This is Maia's. That is not mine, that's Bruddah Bear's. I'm riding. Now Sistah Bear's. Bruddah Bear, Bruddah Bear. I'm RIDING around. I'm going in the forest. I'm going in the forest. I'm going in the forest. I'm RIDING a bike. RIDING the bike! RIDING! I RIDING! RIDING MY BIKE! Bike. Bike. BIG BIKE! I can reach up. Oooh oooh oooh oooh. I'm going up. RIDING MY BIKE through the long town. Hum hum. Come come. Shake one foot. One foot, shake shake! I got out! I should shake my -- zee zeeeee zee.

2:47 PM

Run down! Down down. I'm down, down. K'nuffle! I read enough. Swimmer, swimmer, swimmer, swim. Nolan is gonna come. Nolan come over. One dabation. One dalmation. One dabation. One dalmation. Aunt Sena puts. Sena got playdough. Aunt Sena walk. I'mma get some. My mommy. *grabs broken spine and shakes like a rattle* Hello Maia! Glad to see you! Hello dalmation. *puts spine in between toes* I put in my toes. I cut my toes. I'm walking to my toes. I like it. I cut this. Daa da daa da daa da daa! Ooooh. Whistle whistle. Coming out. *plays broken spine like a recorder* Wooooooooo! Woooo! Wooooodooooo! It is a flute! I do cut the fire. I play with the light. I cut it into little pieces. Then I sit. I'mma sing. Anybody need help? They're flying. *curls into a ball and starts kissing her Bunny*

3:05 PM

*asleep*

tagged as offspring | permalink | 4 comments

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

List Day: 10 Questions to Ask When Doing Local Election Research

  1. Is the total count of their Twitter tweets greatly out of proportion with the sum of their Followers plus their Following count (-1)?

  2. Do they own a real domain name (www.candidate.com, +3), or are they camping on a subdomain (candidate.blogspot.com, +2)? Or, even worse, a social media group (www.facebook.com/candidate, +1)? Do they even have a web presence (-3)?

  3. Did he include a picture of himself in the Sheriff Department coloring book passed out at SterlingFest (-3)?

  4. Is their platform purely aspirational ("I want to bring transparency to government!", -2) or executable ("I will post all meeting minutes to the county website!, +2)?

  5. Does anything come up when you Google their name and "controversy" (-2), "lawsuit" (-2), "embezzlement" (-2), or "llama" (+2)?

  6. Does it look like they tried way too hard to get a balanced roster of minorities in their campaign images (-1)?

  7. Are they wearing a hard hat in any campaign image (-1)?

  8. Did she file to run for Loudoun Commonwealth's Attorney after backdating a lease agreement to make it look like she moved there in time for residency requirements while still living in Fairfax for another 6 months (-3)?

  9. Is he Eugene Delgaudio (-3)?

  10. Do we really need more Fire Departments (NEVER)?

tagged as lists, politics | permalink | 2 comments

Friday, October 25, 2019

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Silicon Valley, S5:
The fifth season of this show is only 8 episodes long. It's pleasant enough and exactly what you'd expect if you've watched it before. That said, it's probably about time to wrap this series up.

Final Grade: B

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie:
This movie tells the tale of a main character from Breaking Bad in the hours after the series finale. I was surprised to find it to be a story worth telling, not just an obligatory regroup of actors and favourite scenes for fan service. The movie's filled with Vince Gilligan's usual visual flairs but moves fast enough to avoid those extended artsy Breaking Bad scenes that I often pushed through at 1.5x speed. The mood is also kept pretty light with liberal use of characters like Badger and Skinny Pete. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B+

i'm sorry, Season One:
It feels like this type of show -- funny adults having crass, funny conversations about nothing -- is popping up all over the place these days. This one is particularly well-done. Not much happens in terms of an overarching plot, but in this case, that's just fine. The show shallowly bounces from joke to joke with longer-setup jokes built up in the background across the season. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B+

Bard's Tale IV:
I grew up playing the original Bard's Tale so I really wanted to like this latest iteration. It has an old-school charm held back by a clunky combat system and erratic frame rate issues. I did get about 9 hours into the story, but was really turned off by the way the game kept adding and removing members of your party (and their inventory) in order to sustain the story. Just let me build my party of 4 anonymous heroes from the beginning and I'd be happy bungling about in this game world.

Final Grade: C+

tagged as reviews | permalink | 3 comments

Monday, October 28, 2019

Weekend Wrap-up

On Friday night, our family dressed up in Halloween costumes for the Sterling Community Center Halloween party. We went way back into nostalgia land to be the Berenstain Bears (although we were also mistaken as the Three Bears and The Wizard of Oz). Maia enjoyed wandering around the gym full of non-profit booths although she probably cheated at all of the ring tossing games that resulted in candy prizes. At a particular point in the night, she decided that she was done being surrounded by other kids and emphatically made a beeline out the front door without goodbyes.

We spent Saturday-day relaxing around the house. In the afternoon, we went over to Mike and Ghazaley's in Herndon for dinner and a fire for roasting marshmmallows. Maia saw her first giant owl.

Sunday was a day full of heavy rain followed by bizarre 78 degree temperatures. In the interim, we let Maia stomp around in puddles with her new frog umbrella. We had Rebecca's extended family on the Loudoun side over for a Halloween / Birthday party in the afternoon, where we made ham, chili, roasted sweet potatoes, and a birthday cake, and played lots of Nertz.

How was your weekend?

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

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

End-of-the-Month Highlights Day

New photos have been added to the Life, 2019 album. Google Photos sucks.

  • Events
    • Dad-daughter dinner at Fireworks Pizza on T 10/1.

    • Went to the Uri grandparents on F 10/4 and had dinner at Fat City Kitchen.

    • Took a trip to Montreal, S 10/5 - M 10/7 while Maia stayed with the grandparents.

    • Dad-daughter dinner at Fireworks Pizza on F 10/11.

    • Went to SterlingFest with our neighbours and won an Alpaca Sweater, then had Poker Night on S 10/12.

    • Had dinner with Tammy on S 10/13.

    • Family dinner at Bungalow Lakehouse on M 10/14.

    • Family dinner at Beer-Bourbon-Burgers in One Loudoun on S 10/19.

    • Family dinner at Bungalow Lakehouse on M 10/21.

    • Dad-daughter dinner at Miller's on T 10/22.

    • The Uri grandparents visited to see Maia and troubleshoot a recurring power issue in the house on W 10/23.

    • Went to the Sterling Community Center Halloween party as the Berenstain Bears on F 10/25.

    • Went to Mike and Ghazaley's for dinner on S 10/26.

    • Had the Loudoun relatives over for a family Halloween party on S 10/27.

    • Dad-daughter dinner at Fireworks on T 10/29.

    • The Uri grandparents visited again on W 10/30.

    • Went to Maia's "school" party on H 10/31. Planning to take Maia Trick or Treating on the court, tornado-pending.

  • Projects
    • Pushed out a new release of Sparkour on S 10/19.

    • Participated in a "Puzzle Boat" with coworkers at P&A Magazine.

    • Finished adding another book to the Paravia Wiki (one more to go!)

  • Consumerism
    • Enjoyed watching Stranger Things, Season Three and El Camino this month.

    • No music or games of note.

October's Final Grade: B+, Good to just be home after a year of mini-trips.

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

 

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