07/2020

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

COVID Thoughts Day

I originally made these posts on Facebook last month. Since I regularly wipe most of my Facebook history, I wanted to preserve them here as well.

June 11, 2020

COVID-19 is still here. The state reopening doesn't mean that it's magically vanished, and the fact that we're all tired of reacting to it has not given us superhero immunity.

There is no deadline attached to "flattening the curve". The longer we can delay the spread of the virus, the more we'll learn about it, and the better prepared we'll be when you or someone you care about finally needs one of those hospital beds.

Please step cautiously through the world, fully aware of the ongoing risks to you and your network. For example, new research (not yet peer-reviewed) suggests that I may be 45% more at risk for respiratory failure. Simple things like universal masks will help to keep me and other vulnerable people safe.

Everyone's threshold for acceptable risk is going to be unique, but there's a pragmatic middle ground between never seeing anyone again and shouting YOLO in a Denny's.

June 27, 2020

I often read about people yearning for a "return to normal", as if there will be a day sometime soon when the danger has passed and we can slip comfortably into our old, familiar patterns of life. This is difficult to accept, but COVID-19 isn't a temporary pause point. It's not like the time Derek pooped in the community pool and no one could swim for an hour while the lifeguard rechlorinated the water.

COVID-19 is a norm-altering event whose aftershocks will continue to ripple out for months, if not years, to come. Some effects will be negative, like the health burdens of survivors with physiological damage, an increase in tribalism between people who don't realize they have a lot in common, and masks that make communication and social interpretation more challenging. Others will be positive, like supply chain innovation and increasing acceptance of telework. Either way, things will be DIFFERENT, and a hard rewind to a simpler time is unlikely.

Free yourself. Abandon the idealized notion of what life used to be like and focus on evolving and adapting. Switch gears from waiting and surviving day-to-day to figuring out what you need to be happy in the long-term. If there are technical or social things you're missing (a new web camera, a daily routine, or a standing video chat with old friends), set them up now. It's okay to be selfish and put your own oxygen mask on first, before you channel your energy into family and friends, or larger societal problems.

We can continue to grow as people and communities even in super weird end times and come out stronger in the long run.

tagged as deep thoughts | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, July 03, 2020

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Modern Family, S10:
Most of the cast has been flanderized by this tenth season. There are just enough warm family moments or funny jokes to keep it afloat, but it's definitely showing its age.

Final Grade: C+

Knives Out (PG-13):
This is a great, traditional murder mystery that functions well as a 21st century version of Clue. The large cast of characters is expertly introduced in a way that the audience can keep up with who's who, and the clues to the murder of a famous author are placed in a way to allow both solving-at-home and red herrings.

Final Grade: B+

Frozen II (PG):
I gave Frozen a C five years ago although that might rise to a B- now that I watch parts of it regularly with Maia. Frozen II feels like a straight-to-video sequel with most of the songs being forgettable B sides. The story is more abstract and talky than the original, so kids might get bored more easily in the middle stretches. A few chuckles here and there, and way too much Olaf (which Maia loves and no adult does) make this passable entertainment. On the CGI side, though, the water and fabrics look great!

Final Grade: B-

Dark, Season Three:
The final season of this German show is simultaneously too slow and too rushed. The nature of the story and the new wrinkles introduced in Season Two sometimes make it feel like the story is treading water. By the end, I wished that some of that time had been spent filling in the growth and outcome of more supporting characters instead. (That's not to say there are any PLOT HOLES -- just gaps in the massive cast's stories that are never explicitly told because they're not on the main path).

That said, this season is a great testament to shows that plot out how they're going to end before they've begun (RIP Lost). The attention to detail in tying lines of dialogue, camera angles, and other facets back to previous seasons also reveals huge clues from old seasons about how the ending would work out. The first half of the eight-episode season is a little slow and muddy, but the last half is full of plot answers and tragic stories.

The finale manages to satisfy both people looking for science answers and people looking for resolution for the characters (RIP Lost). While it seems to break a few of the show's established "rules", post-show discussion on Reddit helped me appreciate how tightly-knit it actually was. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B+ (I gave Season One and Two an A- and A respectively, and would give the series as a whole an A-).

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Monday, July 06, 2020

Maia Battle Report: Year 3

Maia is three years old today! She's 34.5" tall and weighs 27.4 pounds, the lowest possible values in the ranges for average growth.

Due to COVID, she had two separate birthday parties, one for each set of grandparents. She's very aware of age this year and has talked about being 2 and turning 3 for weeks. She expresses excitement by proclaiming, "I so excited!" and then running down the hall and back for no apparent reason. She's also looking forward to our upcoming beach trip where she will "sleep in the top bunk and the bottom bunk".

We finally showed her Frozen 2 and she had a rudimentary grasp of the plot without explaining (other than the endless sequences of nature fairies flying everywhere). She even got worried when the characters sailed into a dark cave and asked, "How will they get out of there?". Frozen 1 is still her favourite but she likes Olaf scenes no matter what. Maia now owns 2 Elsas from 2 different gift givers, Big Elsa and Baby Elsa. Thankfully only one of them sings "Let It Go" in its entirety. If Elsa is not around in the room somewhere when Maia wakes up, she'll call out, "Elsa, where are you?" over and over.

Other fragments from the past month:

  • She got a big batch of new books when the library opened back up and spent her quiet time inventing the stories to go with the pictures since we hadn't read them yet.

  • Like a research chimp, she learned to use a plastic bucket as a stool. She fell off just often enough that I gave her a sturdy footstool to drag around her room instead.

  • She slept on the floor a few nights last week. When we finally asked her why, she said that there were too many bunnies in the bed, and allowed us to move the majority of them onto the stuffed animal shelf. The era of bunnies is not over, though, as she has stated that all bunnies will be going to the beach to help use the bunk beds.

  • She now has a weekly visit to Lake Barcroft to sit on the shady beach and visit with Rebecca's parents from afar which will train her well for the beach.

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

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken 3 years ago today, on July 8, 2017.

Maia was about a day and a half old and trying to get me to lose at the circle game while staying in the Inova baby zone.

I never mentioned much about the hospital stay because Rebecca had originally planned to do some blog posts about it. Maia arrived by C-section after trying so hard to pop out the normal way that her head looked like a garden gnome's hat for a few hours. On the first night, the staff had to address some fluid in Maia's lungs (common for C-sections apparently), so I sat with Maia in a room full of tiny baby ovens while Rebecca finally got to sleep.

On day 3, we ordered pictures from the hospital-associated photographer with my only rule being that none of the pictures should look like an Anne Geddes!

tagged as memories | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, July 10, 2020

List Day: 10 Unlikely Perils that Childrens' TV Prepared Me For

  • Quicksand

  • Fake roads painted on walls

  • All of the animals escaping from the farm

  • Erupting volcanoes

  • Trains approaching while I'm in the middle of a bridge

  • Trains derailing because the track switch is toggled to the wrong side

  • Convicts trying to steal my vault of gold

  • Friends pressuring me into smoking cigarettes

  • Trapped in a cage with the key just out of reach

  • Drugs everywhere

tagged as lists | permalink | 4 comments

Monday, July 13, 2020

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

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

6:18 AM: Day 122 of Quarantine: Showered and ready for the day.
6:27 AM: Bagel for breakfast.
6:46 AM: Getting some early morning work done.
9:14 AM: It's morning time!
9:43 AM: Puzzle for breakfast.
10:46 AM: Building a house for bunnies, a treehouse for bunnies, and a funny car for bunnies.
12:51 PM: Home from the Farmer's Market and having mac and cheese for lunch.
1:32 PM: Elsa is teaching us how to play Let It Go.
1:42 PM: Running on the treadmill and rewatching 12 Monkeys, Season Two.
3:12 PM: Rehabilitating my web development skills.
5:51 PM: Wings and gyro from Joe's for dinner.
7:06 PM: Zoom call with Rebecca's college friends.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Time-lapsed Blogography Day: Half-Decades

5 years ago today, on July 15, 2015, I was living the bachelor life while Rebecca hiked through the Alps. This required me to squeeze in all of the movies we probably wouldn't watch together, like Surrogates, Interstellar, and Prisoners while eating Domino's pizza (in the brief phase when it was good again).

10 years ago today, on July 15, 2010, Rebecca and I were in Santa Cruz visiting her aunt. We went to the beach, where the water was too cold to go in, and a Monarch Butterfly Rest Stop.

15 years ago today, on July 15, 2005, I framed the three jazz posters that are still in my basement.

20 years ago today, on July 15, 2000, I finished writing high school marching band drill to the song, "Reflections of Earth", from the Disney Millenium Celebration (a song that now plays prominently in the Customs line at Dulles Airport). The band director that I worked for had just gotten a second gig teaching at Langley High School so he bought the drill from me twice!

25 years ago today, on July 15, 1995, I was in the middle of Governor's School at the University of Richmond. I spent the morning in a "Humanities Share" session which was as painful as it sounds. In the afternoon class, "Coffee Shop", a guy named Ezra Ford alleviated the boredom of peoples' high school poems by reciting "Repression of the Tibetan Chicken" and "Monologue on the European Gerbil". There was a mandatory dance (Beach-themed) that night, and I spent the dance playing foosball and chess instead of talking to girls.

30 years ago today, on July 15, 1990, I had just arrived home from my first trip to Camp Sinoquipe, where I'd earned the First Aid, Mammal Study, and Rifle Shooting merit badge. I did not get the Swimming merit badge as planned because I suddenly realized that I didn't like swimming in a cold lake with no bottom in sight. (I would go on to earn the Swimming merit badge in the warm Chinquapin indoor pool the following December).

tagged as memories | permalink | 2 comments

Friday, July 17, 2020

List Day: 5 Fun Songs Written During Quarantine

I'm Good? by Hilltop Hoods

Parmas in June by Illy

Bored by Tessa Violet and Misterwives

All Together Now by OK Go

Wash Ya Hands by KT Tunstall, featuring Grace Savage and the Freelance Hellraiser

tagged as lists | permalink | 0 comments

Monday, July 20, 2020

Quarantine Data Day

On this, my 130th day of quarantine, I have now spent 35.6% of 2020 in a very low energy orbit in and around my house (not unlike subatomic particles chilled to near 0 degrees Kelvin).

  • I've shopped at Giant 24 times, Safeway 8 times, Costco 2 times, and Wegmans 0 times (roughly once every 4 days). Out of those 33 trips, I've only seen non-homeopathic disinfectant wipes in stock 3 times.

  • I've made 135 git commits to my new web development project.

  • I've amassed 13 days 9 hours 28 minutes of play time on my new Elder Scrolls Online character.

  • I've spent $585.83 on Amazon purchases. However, the first place winner in my company's Advent of Code competition left the company before prizes were awarded, so I also received an unexpected $500 Amazon gift card.

  • We've ordered from Joe's Pizzaria 18 times, Sweetwater 5 times, Chuy's 3 times, Siam Spice 2 times, and each of Mellow Mushroom, NY Santini's, Chopsticks House, and Fireworks Pizza 1 time.

  • We took 2 getaway trips, one to a cottage in the Shenandoah and one to a farm in Lovettsville. I went to the office 2 times (once to rescue a plant and once to get a new laptop). I've only used about one full tank of gas the entire time.

  • We only know 1 person within 1 degree of separation who's actually gotten COVID (they recovered).

tagged as data | permalink | 1 comment

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Stuff in My Drawers Day: July 1992

Here's what was going on in July 28 years ago, based on our junior high school's Literary Calendar. You can tell it's a high quality calendar because it lists the incorrect date for Jan Berenstain's birthday (and also shows the birthday of an enigmatic author named Heminway, which clearly should be "Hemi-way"). I was 12 and going into 9th grade.

  • Took art classes all day long on Saturdays at the Torpedo Factory.
  • Helped my dad build a shed in the backyard (#1 of 2 through the years).
  • Went camping with my Boy Scout troop at Granite Hill in Gettysburg.
  • Watched my neighbor's yippy chihuahua, Rusty, for 2 weeks.
  • Purchased the VGA remake of Quest for Glory I (with 256 colours!).
  • Hosted a summer party for all of my friends.
  • Went RV camping with my friend, James, for a week around Hershey Park (we mostly sat in the RV and played Zelda: Link to the Past).

tagged as media | permalink | 2 comments

Friday, July 24, 2020

Beach Day

We're off to the beach with a bubble of like-minded quarantiners! Regular updates will resume in August, although I may post occasional beach pics next week if the WiFi cooperates.

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Monday, July 27, 2020

Beach Day

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

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Beach Day

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

Friday, July 31, 2020

End-of-the-Month Highlights Day

New photos have been added to the Life, 2020 album.

  • Events
    • 4th of July barbecue at the Smith's on S 7/4.

    • Maia's 3rd Birthday Party Part I with the Uri grandparents on S 7/5.

    • Maia's 3rd Birthday Party Part II with Rebecca's parents on M 7/6.

    • Outdoor visit to our Taylorstown relatives, Carol and Dave, on S 7/11.

    • Yet another tack-driven flat tire, this time on Rebecca's car on S 7/12.

    • Outdoor visit with the Uri grandparents on H 7/16 and H 7/23.

    • Off to Duck in the Outer Banks with the Smiths on S 7/26.

  • Projects
    • Worked on overhauling an ancient website throughout the month (to be released sometime next month).

  • Consumerism
    • Minimal gaming this month.

    • Enjoyed watching Superstore, Season Three and Dark, Season Three.

    • Continuing to listen to the Fratellis' ancient albums.

July's Final Grade: B-, Overwhelmingly hot and busy, but we got to the beach!

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