12/2019

Monday, December 02, 2019

Advent of Code Day

The annual Advent of Code competition started yesterday morning at midnight. After some dithering about whether to participate in real-time this year, I decided to do it for as long as I can maintain enough sleep to deal with a two-year-old during the day. The hard part isn't waking up in the middle of the night to solve a puzzle -- it's trying to get back to sleep afterwards when your brain is buzzing with speed-coding adrenaline.

It has now been about two and a half years since I last coded for a living. I was worried that my skills would have become permanently crippled (not unlike my trumpet embouchure). Thankfully, the mechanics of coding seem to be ingrained now -- I was able to reflexively write working code even if the problem-solving aspect took a little longer. On our company's private leaderboard, I came in 2nd place on the 1st puzzle, just a minute after the 1st place time.

You can follow my progress throughout the month on my Top 10 Solve Times page, which I update every day. Stay tuned!

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Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Art Day

BU: "Look, Maia, I drew you a cow."

Maia: "I gonna draw his poop."

tagged as offspring | permalink | 3 comments

Friday, December 06, 2019

Maia Battle Report: Year 2 Month 5

Maia's November was a dramatic acceleration in development, kickstarted by the evil of Daylights Savings Time. She initiated a successful visit to the toilet even though we're not actively doing anything to teach that yet. She managed to climb out of her crib on the 16th, and then opened the nursery door on her own on the 21st. I had to install one of those plastic doorknob condoms that irritate adults more than kids. Now during naps when she doesn't feel like sleeping, she'll just knock on the door saying things like "Trick or Treat!" and "Daddy? Daddy? Daddy? Daddy? Come get me."

  • "This one says...": What Maia says when she wants you to read something, like a panel in a comic strip or a page in a book.
  • "This matches...": What Maia says when she picks out her outfits based on color or pattern.
  • "That not a good song, Daddy": What Maia says when I try to invent new lyrics to repetitive childrens' songs.

She sometimes shows favoritism between Mommy and Daddy and verbalizes unexpected connections between the books she reads and the concepts she learns. She speaks in well-constructed sentences like "What are you doing, Daddy?" and when she has to repeat herself multiple times to be understood she gets louder and more exasperated, like Mitch Hedberg telling you about that tree over there.

Between the cold, the rain, and the fact that the sun goes down at 1 PM now, evening activities are a little more restricted. We'll usually hit the grocery store and experiment with some fun type of cracker-based snack, or just stay home and rake leaves. She still loves all of her morning activities and talks about her best friend, Nolan, and his family all of the time (They just moved into a house down Church Road so they can be best buds for a while now).

Of course, the thing she likes most right now is Christmas. She started the Advent Calendar on November 22 and enjoys lying under the Christmas tree and looking up. After helping Rebecca wrap some presents, she proudly blurted out, "DADDY I GOT YOU A PRESENT IT'S A BIG BLANKET!". I will have to refrain from telling her any state secrets about aliens.

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

Monday, December 09, 2019

Weekend Wrap-up

On Friday afternoon, we had the first of several consultations to talk about putting a screened porch in our backyard next spring. We then put up the outdoor Christmas lights with Maia, who greatly enjoyed the deer.

On Saturday, Rebecca taught a round of anatomy to prospective yoga teachers. Afterwards, I brought Maia to the studio for a trial run of Rebecca's first "Little Yogis" class. Maia was super excited for the first 10 minutes, but then spent the rest of the class sitting in the lobby with me rolling around on the floor. We followed up with dinner at Bungalow Lakehouse, where I had a very satisfying prime rib and baked potato.

On Sunday, we had another porch consultation and a dinner of shrimp alfredo with the Jacksons. Tobias is already 7 months old!

I also got up each night at midnight for Advent of Code!

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Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Living With Yourself, Season One:
This series features Paul Rudd trying to make a better version of himself when something goes wrong. It has a few promising ideas that are never fully developed and has way too much repetition and "24 hours ago..." sequences. By the time it ended, I didn't feel like much plot progress had been made -- more like I was watching a prequel than a full season. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: C+

Goldsboro by Goldsboro:
While listening to an album of the defunct, underrated band, Orson, I idly wondered what they had done next. I purchased this album after learning that they had formed a new band. The new band only lasted for one album and it's clear why -- this is a batch of forgettable, lo-fi, hard rock selections with little in the way of hooks or melody.

Final Grade: C-

End of the F***ing World, Season Two:
Season Two of this oddball coming-of-age story picks up a year after the first. It has a nice arc that successfully develops the characters to a well-earned conclusion while still retaining the road-trip-like feel of the first season. The use of classic doo-wop songs in the soundtrack isn't as fresh, but it still works very well. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B+

Kin by Electric Guest:
Short and sparsely orchestrated, the third album from Electric Guest is pretty catchy. The male falsetto thing feels a little tired now that everyone has been inundated by that one Portugal. The Man song, but I've always been a fan of the timbre.

Final Grade: B+

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Friday, December 13, 2019

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

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

12:58 AM: Wrapping up Day 12 of Advent of Code.
4:51 AM: Showered and ready for work.
5:28 AM: Breakfast in the office.
6:32 AM: Still somewhat competitive.
11:38 AM: Cat-less catnap after a trip to the grocery store.
12:18 PM: Maia returns from her school holiday party with a gift from Santa (a stamp).
12:36 PM: Lunch with the family.
1:25 PM: Exercising while watching the 7th Star Wars movie, which has been going on for much too long now.
3:27 PM: Ready for a trip to Grandpa's House.
5:20 PM: Reading the Knuffle Bunny series.
7:42 PM: Back home and reading Llama Llama for bedtime.
11:55 PM: Up for Day 13 of Advent of Code.

tagged as 12 of 12 | permalink | 1 comment

Monday, December 16, 2019

Twelve 12 of 12s

a recap of 12 of 12 posts from 2019

January: Rebecca and Maia return from their overnight Girl's Night at the Smith's, and find a gentle dusting in progress.
February: Off to a local gym class with daycare.
March: Already warm enough to hit Lake Anne.
April: The traditional breakfast routine of oatmeal and book reading.
May: Daddy-daughter play date.
June: The evening before I got a 24-hour flu.
July: Prototyping the Uri Tech Primer.
August: Ice cream dance!
September: Hiding from the heat in the mall bookstore.
October: Introduction of the "funky sweater".
November: Baths were a consistent hit.
December: The longest day of the year.

tagged as 12 of 12 | permalink | 2 comments

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken in December 1981.

My sister, who would have been 5 years old, is being held up by my 6'7" dad to put the topper on the Christmas tree. Given that there's an identical picture of me putting up the same topper on the same day, it's unclear how much of this was our useful contribution and how much was mimicked for the sake of history.

This was a real Christmas tree -- we always bought real trees with the roots in a burlap bag growing up and then planted them in the backyard. They would put in minimal attempts to life for about a year before dying.

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Friday, December 20, 2019

Top Reviews of 2019

Here are the experiences I gave the highest ratings to in 2019. Perfect for filling the Christmas week doldrums!

Television Shows

  • Dark, Season One and Two (A-, A) (Netflix)
  • Barry, Season One (A)
  • Dead to Me (A) (Netflix)
  • Russian Doll, Season One (A-) (Netflix)
  • Stranger Things, Season Three (A-) (Netflix)
  • 12 Monkeys, All Four Seasons (B, B+, A, A)
  • Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, Season One (B+) (Netflix)
  • i'm sorry, Season One and Two (B+, B+) (Netflix)

Movies

  • El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (B+) (Netflix)
  • Dolemite is My Name (B+) (Netflix)
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (B+) (Netflix)
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet (B+) (Netflix)

Music

  • Reset by e-dubble (B+)
  • Great Expanse by Hilltop Hoods (B+)
  • Simulation Theory by Muse (B+)
  • Kin by Electic Guest (B+)

Books

  • Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyou (B+)
  • Hello World: Being Human in the Age of Algorithms by Hannah Fry (B+)

Games

  • Grim Dawn (B+) (PC)

tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments

Monday, December 23, 2019

2019 Timeline

A smattering of events from 2019

January: B+
  • Enjoyed about 11 total inches of snow.
  • Went to a company party at MGM National Harbor.
February: C+
  • Worked on a massive $950M proposal effort at work (which we won).
  • Had an Oscar party with no Oscars due to streaming restrictions.
March: B+
  • Hosted Sara and Karl over their Spring Break.
  • Went to a bland Harpers Ferry rental house for a weekend.
April: A
  • Got the roof replaced.
  • Rebecca got super in to puzzles.
  • Rebecca went on a whirlwind trip to Columbus for Elisa's wedding.
  • Easter with the Whitmer's in Taylorstown.
  • Got the roof replaced.
May: B+
  • Enjoyed a staycation while Rebecca and Maia went to Oklahoma City for a week.
  • First and last barbeque of the year.
  • Got a lot of swag for my 15th work anniversary.
June: B
  • Missed a trip to Rhode Island because of a 24-hour flu.
  • Spent the weekend on a sheep farm in Lovettsville.
  • Got the AWS Big Data - Specialty certification.
July: B
  • 4th of July in Taylorstown.
  • Weekend in Richmond with the Edwardses and Mike & Annie.
  • Weekend in Mill Run, PA with Elisa and Sayak.
August: B-
  • Many trips to Alexandria after my mom's hospital adventures.
  • Fredericksburg trip to visit the Ahlbins and Hickses.
  • Saw the Rhode Island nephews in Alexandria.
September: A
  • Rebecca started "Just for 2s" class.
  • Turned 40 in Clifton with a poker party.
  • Another staycation while Rebecca and Maia went on a church retreat for the weekend.
  • Released the "Uri Tech Primer" at work.
October: B+
  • Went to Montreal for our 10th wedding anniversary.
  • Joined a month-long "Puzzle Boat" at work.
  • Dressed as the Berenstain Bears for Halloween.
November: B-
  • Early Thanksgiving with Maia's kid friends.
  • Hosted Sara and Karl again over Thanksgiving Break.
  • Thanksgiving in Taylorstown.
  • Got a new tree in our front yard.
December: B
  • Participated in Advent of Code 2019.
  • Started planning for our new screen porch.

How was the last year of this decade for you?

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 4 comments

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Christmas Day

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Friday, December 27, 2019

Advent of Code Wrap-up

After 25 nights of stowing a sleeping bag near the computer so I could wake up at midnight, Advent of Code has come to a close. I did much better in my second year, taking about 30 hours to finish every puzzle (vs. 38 last year).

Although the company competition goes until the end of the year to allow people to catch up, it's looking like I'll snag 2nd place and a $200 prize (vs. 4th place and $0 last year). This works out to about $6.67 per hour, which is more than I earned in my first internship at PEPCO in 1996. I was definitely helped by the vagaries of real life -- one top competitor had a new infant halfway through the month while another spent a week at the AWS re:Invent conference in Vegas with shoddy WiFi access.

As you can see from my times below, I managed to finish each night before going back to bed. I definitely regretted this on the day that took four and a half hours (I drove to the office directly afterwards).

I also made it onto the Global Leaderboard for the Day 25 puzzle, as the 84th fastest person in the world to finish. The puzzle involved solving a rudimentary text adventure game, so clearly it was in my wheelhouse.

I'm already looking forward to next year's competition. Maybe I'll cave to peer pressure and switch from Java to Python next time!

Update: An official 2nd place!

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Monday, December 30, 2019

End-of-the-Month Highlights Day

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

  • Events
    • Vist to the Uri grandparents on W 12/4.

    • Dad-daughter dinner at Fireworks Pizza on H 12/5.

    • Put up Christmas lights and kitschy deer on F 12/6.

    • Rebecca taught a "Little Yogis" class at her yoga studio on S 12/7. Followed up with a satisfying prime rib dinner at Bungalow Lakehouse.

    • Dinner with the Jackson's on S 12/8.

    • Visit to the Uri grandparents on H 12/12 to help decorate their tree.

    • Rebecca taught Yoga Anatomy all weekend long while BU and Maia hung out on S 12/14 - 12/5.

    • Christmas Potluck at Mike and Ghazaley's on S 12/14.

    • Family dinner at Marumen on S 12/15.

    • Solo dad dinner at Miller's on T 12/17.

    • Work lunch followed by Dad-daughter dinner at Mellow Mushroom on H 12/19.

    • Missed the Wilmer annual Christmas Open House for a Maia sick day on S 12/21.

    • Had Tammy over for a ramen dinner on S 12/22.

    • Dinner at Marumen with Marc on M 12/23.

    • Christmas Eve dinner of broiled tenderloins with garlic butter after Rebecca and Maia went to Riverside for a church service on T 12/24.

    • Maia and I got mildly sick on Christmas Day W 12/25, but saw Rebecca's parents for lunch. Went on a Christmas Light stroll on Juniper Avenue, a far cry from its glory days.

    • Belated Christmas with my parents on F 12/27. Took Maia to try her new balance bike at the playground in the evening.

    • Dinner with Tammy and Zoe at Mellow Mushroom on S 12/29.

    • Had a low-key New Year's Eve at home with Car, Ben, Tammy, and Zoe on S 12/31.

  • Projects
    • Woke up at midnight for Advent of Code all month long (and won 2nd place at work).

    • Locked in plans for our 2020 Screen Porch.

  • Consumerism
    • Enjoyed new music from Electric Guest this month.

    • Enjoyed watching End of the F***ing World, Season Two.

    • Purchased Red Dead Redemption 2 (PC), but haven't had time to really dig into it yet.

December's Final Grade: B, Maia loves Christmas but the family can't seem to shake these colds.

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

 

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