10/2020

Friday, October 02, 2020

Eleventh 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 | 2020

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Monday, October 05, 2020

More Deep Thoughts Day

More Facebook posts I want to preserve for posterity:

August 20, 2020

Science is chaotic and sometimes goes in the wrong direction, but eventually we arrive at repeatable evidence-based conclusions. The novel nature of COVID-19 means that we have an incomplete picture of its spread and long-term effects. It's premature to think we fully understand all of the risks, and misleading to rely on comparisons between COVID-19 and well-studied problems like influenza and car crashes.

We simply don't know enough yet, but given enough time, we will!

This is why I continue wear a mask in public. TIME is the ingredient in short supply as we simultaneously try to study the virus, mass-produce a working vaccine, and manage hospital capacity. If my ugly mask can buy some time and save a few lives by slowing community spread, then it's the logical and compassionate thing to do.

In the absence of a clear message empowering us to respond to COVID-19 as a unified country, we each have the responsibility to make compassionate choices. Wearing a mask is literally the easiest sacrifice I can make, yet it potentially has the largest public health payoff in terms of viral severity and deaths avoided. Even if science course-corrects tomorrow and we learn that masks are a placebo, I've lost nothing but fashion cred.

I post this, not to pass judgement on different choices, but to give you another data point to consider as you weigh your own levels of acceptable risk. There are people like me still acting with caution (not fear) and trying to normalize masks so we can reach the day they're no longer needed, hopefully without more suffering. We're doing what we hope is best for our communities, even if we aren't the most vocal or visible group in the news or on social media.

September 25, 2020

The Internet has decayed to a state where big players like Google and Facebook are de facto gatekeepers for news and knowledge. This weaponizes a massive push towards homogeneity, where the "right" answer is the one most loudly and broadly promoted, not necessarily the correct one or the one most people agree with.

Social media and search engines selectively promote or conceal content to keep you engaged on their platforms, based on the posts you Like or Share and the links you follow. This leads to a dangerous echo chamber effect where the content you're most likely to discover already reinforces your perception of the world.

There is clear evidence that this situation is being exploited, both by cash-starved news outlets using clickbait to compete for your eyeballs and malicious, organized foreign disinformation campaigns that are successfully seeding confusion and division in the US. As a result, it's more difficult for us to be informed citizens and apply critical thinking to the firehose of "newsworthy" events.

Here are 4 simple tips I would suggest to find the signal in all of the noise:

  1. Stop using social media as your primary news aggregator. Like the cute baby pics but Hide the news stories and political memes. You can still engage in activism without a Share button -- it just requires more effort and personalizing of your message.
  2. Rely on established, traditional news sources with enough published articles to reveal their intrinsic biases. Own those biases and "trust but verify" as you read. Use a resource like AllSides to see how different sources slant the same event to cater to different audiences. Consider a print subscription to avoid the endless Breaking News! cycle.
  3. Stop accepting the narrative that every news event boils down to a Good/Evil zero-sum game -- it's dangerous to paint everyone who disagrees with you as The Enemy. Understand that your strongest emotions (belonging, outrage, patriotism, religious fervor) are being exploited and monetized by this narrative.
  4. Use search engines while logged out or in a private browsing tab to avoid getting results based on your past search behavior. Consider a privacy-focused search engine like DuckDuckGo.

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Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Stuff in My Drawers Day: Bunnies, Part III

Even more pandemic bunny drawing requests from Maia

Other posts in this series: Part I | Part II | Part III

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Friday, October 09, 2020

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Schitt's Creek, Season One:
I started watching this comedy from Eugene and Dan Levy based on the number of Emmies the final, sixth season received. It's pleasant enough but starts to feel a little one-note by the end. Still, it was over quickly and piqued my interest enough to start the next season. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B-

I Love Beirut by Mika:
This live fundraising concert actually turned out to be a pre-recorded invitation-link-only concert, but this format allowed for a much more interesting 90 minutes, with plenty of guest performances and videos. A few songs had mixing or sync issues. A little sappy overall, but it comes for a good place, and it's always fun to watch Mika perform.

Final Grade: B

Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh:
The long-delayed sequel to Hyperbole and a Half is not quite as good. The balance between seriousness and silliness is less effective, with a couple super serious chapters mixed into many more absurd ones. At 500 pages, it's a very heavy tome, but you'll zoom through it to enjoy all of the unique MSPaint art (whose style has noticeably evolved since the first book).

Final Grade: B

The Good Place, Season Four:
The third season of this show was the weakest, but the final, fourth season wraps everything up perfectly. There's a flurry of great episodes in the latter half of the season (with plenty of great guest star appearances), and each character gets the ending that fits. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: A

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Monday, October 12, 2020

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

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

6:25 AM: Showered and ready for the day.
6:38 AM: English muffins for breakfast.
7:02 AM: Quick Safeway run to restock on fresh, delicious bagels.
7:32 AM: In the new basement office.
8:41 AM: Working on Puzzle Boat 7 with my team from work.
11:36 AM: Shells and cheese for lunch. It's LIQUID GOLD, according to the box.
12:22 PM: Hanging art in the rearranged bedroom.
2:54 PM: Catnap.
4:45 PM: Exercising on the treadmill and watching Schitt's Creek, Season Two.
5:47 PM: Shroom burger from Red Robin for dinner, in the gentle shade of our avocado tree.
7:28 PM: Video chat with the family in Nag's Head.
7:38 PM: Playing Paper Mario: Origami King, which is 50% charming and 50% tedious.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Meanwhile, At the Beach... Day

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Friday, October 16, 2020

Review Day: Wing Wind by Paige L. Christie

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Wing Wind is Book Two of the four-book series, Legacies of Arnan, by Paige L. Christie (I also reviewed Book One). I enjoyed the first book for its uplifting themes, well-developed relationships, and effective use of time jumps.

Wing Wind continues to evolve the childhood friends, Leiel and Cleod, into their 20s and 30s, and thankfully deepens their relationships with wonderful supporting characters like Kilras and Gahree. While the pay-off here is excellent (I immediately started Book Three after completion), the order of how the story is told had me struggling to gain momentum in the first half.

With Draigon Weather, I felt like I was watching the author solve a jigsaw puzzle blind by picking random pieces out of the box and placing them exactly where they belonged, resulting in a surprising, satisfying conclusion. The structure of Wing Wind is more like doing all of the edges first -- and while the edges are necessary, I already know that the interim result will be a rectangle and I'm much more interested in finding out what's going on in the unexplored middle.

In this case, the first half of Book Two sequentially explores Leiel's evolution between two major events in Book One. This section is foundational to the choices that Leiel makes later, but it didn't surprise or excite me as much as I hoped it would. I'm glad I stuck with it though -- once the story catches up in time to the final moments of Book One (around the 60% mark on Kindle), the action explodes and the reveals pile up.

The writing continues to crackle throughout the story. The conversation that concludes Chapter 48 is horrifically awesome and forced me to recalibrate my expectations for the next books. This is not a series that will play it safe and hew close to the familiar baseline it established upfront (and sometimes, I'm in the mood for a book like that!) -- it will continue to grow beyond the original blueprints, much like its thoughtful, compassionate characters.

Final Grade: B

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Monday, October 19, 2020

List Day: 10 Things I Did on Staycation

  1. Fall super-cleaning of the whole house.

  2. Rearranged two bedrooms.

  3. Moved a file cabinet full of 24 years of life's detritus into the basement.

  4. Repaired a broken sink pivot bar.

  5. Fixed a leaky tub cartridge.

  6. Hung new pictures on the walls.

  7. Ordered out for dinner 4 times.

  8. Solved 19 puzzles in Puzzle Boat 7.

  9. Started and finished the book, Long Light.

  10. Unraveled 0 new streamers in Paper Mario: Origami King because there are too many random battles slowing down progression.

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

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken six years ago, on October 21, 2014.

We were vacationing in Seattle and briefly stopped by McChord Air Force Base to visit Anna's sister, Emily, on our way out of town. I still sport the mark from my pool accident a month earlier in the Outer Banks.

In the evening, we drove south in the rain to Lake Crescent Lodge, where we sat in the old lodge drinking wine, playing Scrabble, and listening to old jazz records.

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Friday, October 23, 2020

Review Day: Long Light by Paige L. Christie

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Long Light is Book Three of the four-book series, Legacies of Arnan, by Paige L. Christie (I also reviewed Book One and Book Two). This story decisively belongs to Kilras, who was easily my favourite supporting character in the previous books. We learn (in a mostly sequential manner) of his growth from a child in a specific village to the empathetic caravan master that eventually befriends Cleod.

It would be too easy to dismiss it as "just a prequel" (in spite of the vexing fact that Book Three ends without any closure about the climax of Book Two) -- Kilras' journeys across Arnan also serve to introduce new people, customs, and factions that have only been hinted at. This adds some "epicness" to the consequences of Leiel's, Cleod's, and Kilras' decisions and breaks away from the mostly-regional perspective we've been given so far.

This broadening device reminded me a little of the recalibration required with Janny Wurt's Wars of Light and Shadows, where everything we learn in previous books has a deeper interpretation as the camera steadily pulls away from the seemingly simple tropes introduced at the beginning. I expect that future rereads of the Legacies of Arnan series will be just as rewarding.

Long Light is structured very similarly to Wing Wind, with an emphasis on one character's evolution instead of the future-facing plot. I wondered why I devoured Kilras' story so quickly yet struggled when the same structure was applied to Leiel in Book Two, and came to two conclusions: (1) Kilras remained enigmatic enough in the early books to have a lot of blank canvas to cover here and (2) Kilras' introspective musings are swirled into a revolving backdrop of interesting cities and situations, while Leiel's growth was more contained to a single location, so it was often the only thing happening for pages.

The bottom line: Book Three worked completely for me. I enjoyed the journey to this point enough that the forthcoming conclusion, Storm Forged, will definitely be a release-day purchase.

Final Grade: B+

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Monday, October 26, 2020

Maia's 12 of 12

Another day from Maia's perspective.

Other posts in this series: Part I | Part II

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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Time-lapsed Blogography Day: Twenty-Five Years Ago Today

Twenty-five years ago today, on October 28, 1995, I was a 16-year-old high school senior with a day full of musical events.

I woke up at 5:30 AM for breakfast and activated a classic landline telephone tree to marching band section leaders around 6:20. Once the whole band had been awakened (parents HATE morning telephone trees), everyone arrived at TC around 7 AM for an early morning practice. Unfortunately, it had recently stormed and the field was a muddy mess. From there, we boarded buses to North Stafford for a band competition.

Because of an accident on I-95, it took us quite a while to get there (I-95 has not improved in the intervening time). We passed time by holding up papers with messages on them for the other buses. We also stared at a woman in the car behind the bus until she got so unnerved that she pulled over to a state trooper near the accident.

The competition itself was a joke. The field there was muddy as well, so every high school band marched in an asphalt parking lot that had no yardlines painted on it. I did a pretty slick drum major salute, but our halftime show was forgettable -- even with lines we rarely made straight lines, so their absence was keenly felt.

We got back to TC around 1, in time for a repeat of our halftime show at the TC-Robinson game (won, 9-7).

In the evening, I worked for the Alexandria Symphony, setting up and tearing down for their evening concert with my compatriots. The job was barely worth the money, but I did get $20 extra for each concert series just for calling people up and recruiting them to move chairs, again on my trusty landline.

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Friday, October 30, 2020

End-of-the-Month Highlights Day

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

  • Events
    • Rebecca and Maia visited Aunt Carol in Taylorstown on H 10/1.

    • Celebrated our 11th Anniversary at home on S 10/3.

    • Rebecca and Maia joined the Edwards in Nag's Head, F 10/9 - S 10/18 while I stayed home.

    • Maia started a class at the Community Center with 2 other students on W 10/21.

    • Back Porch visit with the Uri Grandparents on H 10/22.

    • Pizza Night with the Smiths on S 10/24.

    • Back Porch visit with Rebecca's parents on T 10/27.

    • Planning a safe round of Trick-or-Treating on S 10/31.

  • Projects
    • Continued my web development side gig with the upgrade of the Maitz & Wurts Studio Shop on S 10/4.

    • Launched Puzzle Boat 7 with my work team from last year. Currently at 73 puzzles solved out of 145.

  • Consumerism
    • No shows or movies of note.

    • No games this month, with every spare moment taken up with puzzles.

    • Recently discovered Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox, and am enjoying watching and listening.

October's Final Grade: B+, Puzzles and staycations!

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