11/2020

Monday, November 02, 2020

Halloween Wrap-up

Halloween was a success in spite of the roadblocks erected by 2020. We carved a single pumpkin, locally grown from a vine in our backyard. That vine originated from the pumpkin seeds we tossed in the compost in 2019. Maia named the pumpkin "Jackie".

Elsa was the obvious choice for costume this year, and it had been worn so often in the run up to Halloween that the plastic tiara had already broken. I'm pretty sure the magic wand isn't Frozen canon, but Maia enjoyed casting spells by saying, "Abracadabra, POOF!"

Maia went trick-or-treating with the across-the-street neighbours and actually got a decent amount of candy. I stayed home because I couldn't see anything through my glasses while masked in the frigid evening. We had the most visitors we've ever had, though still not many, and gave away about 15 individual bags of candy (to minimize fingers in a shared bowl). EVERYONE that came to our house was masked!

How was your Halloween?

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Wednesday, November 04, 2020

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Schitt's Creek, Season Two:
The second season is still pretty shallow (Moira in particular feels overused and one-note), but it starts to show tiny signs of growth. The season finale is warmly pleasant. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B-

Schitt's Creek, Season Three:
This season works very well because the characters are finally allowed to evolve past the "fish out of water" cliches that held the first two seasons back. I enjoyed it and finished it quickly.

Final Grade: B

Sarah Cooper: Everything's Fine:
This is a comedy special from the comedian who became Internet-famous for lip-synching to Trump's unedited monologues. It's not just lip-syncing (which is great because those are the weakest, most obligatory parts) but it's pretty hit-or-miss. The special really feels like it wants to be the next I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson but never quite gets there. However, it does make us want to watch Tim Robinson again. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: C

ISILER Space Heater, 1500W:
I go through space heaters like Maia goes through Elsa dolls. I got this one for potential portable use on the screen porch as autumn sets in, but there's not quite enough oomph to it to warm the entire family. However, this tiny model really packs a punch in my office, heating the whole room up in minutes. It only has two downsides: (1) the tip-over safety is a button on the bottom so it needs to be on a hard floor (or my Learning from Data book that I never finished because of all the math). (2) When the thermostat hits its threshold, the heat stops but the fan keeps going, blowing unheated air. I get around this by simply turning the thermostat all the way up so it never stops heating.

Final Grade: B

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Friday, November 06, 2020

Maia Battle Report: Year 3 Month 4

Maia at age 3 is showing small signs of brilliance, like asking what's going on on the other side of the world when the sun goes down, or making a connection between something brand new and something we learned and forgot months ago. She is into a rhyming phase where she likes to string rhyming sounds together like "hocky, blocky, docky". She has definitely entered the WHY?? stage of life which is more irritating than I thought it would be. All it's doing is training me to hold back the reason for something I say so I'll have a follow-up ready for the inevitable WHY??

We're working on her joke abilities, and she has over a 50% chance to guess the punchline of jokes following a known pattern, like animal sounds: "What do cows call the carousel?" or "What do bunnies say to celebrate a birthday?", or "Where do horses live?"

Among other fragments of her life:

  • She thinks "toots" are funny and games often center around a bunny pooping in the toilet.
  • She invented her own version of the alphabet song that ends, "W, X, Y and Z. That's my alphabet and those are the letters we have!"
  • Pink is her favourite color.
  • She's really good at navigating mazes without crossing walls, as long as you show here where START and FINISH are.
  • The second season of Superwings got really weird, so we switched shows, and she now likes some show about animals that deliver baby animals to parent animals. We started Emperor's New Groove last week but she seems indifferent to finishing it.

For the past couple weeks, we have sent her back to her Sterling Community Center class, 1 hour twice a week. She is the 3rd of 3 students, with masks on and a classroom subdivided into distinct no-travel zones so the kids don't roll on each other. The social time has been good for her although it has restarted the firehose of oddly-sized crafts of questionable artistic value.

Daylight Savings Time, as usual, wrecked her sleep schedule, so her usual sleeptime is 8:30 - 7:30 each night without a nap. We still do about 90 minutes of quiet time in the afternoon, where she plays by herself in her room and Rebecca takes a nap before going to work (still just twice a week). My work is unchanged, with all hours done at home for the forseeable future.

tagged as offspring, lists, day-to-day | permalink | 0 comments

Monday, November 09, 2020

Election Day

While I doubt that there will be notable forward progress in the next 4 years, I'm definitely looking forward to politics reverting back to traditional, predictable form. Biden as President will be familiar, unsurprising, and likely hamstrung by lack of Senate control. In my opinion, that's exactly what we need to decelerate our parallel freefalls in global prestige, economy, critical thinking, and public health.

Sure, there's a case to be made for changing things quickly, but "move fast and break things" doesn't work when our country's government is intentionally designed to enforce methodical, stately progress. Let's clean up the mess a little bit before we scare the other half of the country with ideas they've been inculcated to fear.

So, give me four years of people feeling like Biden isn't moving fast enough, an emphasis on arresting the entropy, and the occasional idyllic scandal about a House rep who uses campaign funds to decorate his office like Downton Abbey. Let's dampen the effects of disinformation, subdue the either/or tribalism, and get the other 100 million eligible voters involved.

If we're all still alive in 2024, THEN we can talk about what's next.

tagged as politics | permalink | 1 comment

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Stuff in My Drawers Day: Maia's Puzzle

I'm a little behind on writing new website posts because I've been dealing with some gross health stuff (I'm fine now!). To fill the void, here is the collage I created last year around this time for Rebecca's Christmas gift, a 1000-piece Ravensburger puzzle:

In other news, I bought Maia the original Where's Waldo? book because she's bored of all her age-appropriate Look-and-Finds, I single-handedly solved a Puzzle Boat 7 puzzle that required an overlayed Ouija Board, and we have finalized our COVID-altered Thanksgiving holiday plans.

How is your life?

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Friday, November 13, 2020

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

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

5:50 AM: Showered and ready for work.
6:15 AM: Bagel for breakfast (already eaten).
9:04 AM: On my biweekly conference call.
9:42 AM: Building a trampoline for bunnies.
10:25 AM: Writing about human curation of data while listening to Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox.
10:48 AM: Behind bars.
11:17 AM: Shells and cheese for lunch.
2:50 PM: Nap for cats.
3:16 PM: Puzzle Boating while Maia "naps". The leaves on our avocado tree are nearly 8 inches long.
5:14 PM: Helping to spackle. Also, it's an all-day pajamas kind of day.
6:03 PM: The grilled cheese from Joe's is 80% butter and 15% cheese.
7:15 PM: Post-bath and finally in new pajamas.

tagged as 12 of 12 | permalink | 2 comments

Monday, November 16, 2020

Quarantine Data Day

Today is Day 249 of our quarantine. We get groceries from Giant pickup and the outdoor farmer's market in Sterling, supplemented with early morning runs to Safeway for fresh bagels and hard-to-find Coke Zero. We don't eat out quite as much as the early days of quarantine, maybe once or twice a week now.

Maia spends two hours per week in her community center class with 2-3 other masked students. Depending on whether Virginia implodes in the coming weeks, we're thinking about expanding that up to six hours in December so Rebecca can be "off" for a little more each week.

Rebecca has started working again sporadically. The past few weeks have been a couple evenings a week seeing a few patients in an empty gym, but her upcoming schedule looks to be filling up more thoroughly.

I'm still doing 30 hours per week from home and have only gassed up my car about 4 times since the beginning. Other than grocery runs, trips to the park with Maia, and last week's doctor odyssey, I'm essentially a permanent fixture in our house.

Our work team for Puzzle Boat 7 is winding down now -- we're at 126 puzzles solved out of 145 today and should be fully wrapped up just in time for Advent of Code next month. Nothing interesting has come out on TV in a while, which is affecting my exercise durations, although I did just discover Cosmo Sheldrake to listen to. His music really gives me an undergraduate composition major vibe that I'm liking.

How is your year proceeding?

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Wednesday, November 18, 2020

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

Twenty-five years ago today, on November 18, 1995, I was a 16-year-old senior.

I spent the morning polishing up the score for Sonorous Sonata, a sonata form assignment in my Music Theory I class. I had written the entire thing in 3 hours on the previous Wednesday, and it shows in how banal the whole thing is. (This is the only movement ever written because we had not yet learned that sonatas had other movements yet).

I also watched Outbreak with my mom, a movie about a virus loose in the US and the near-decision to just nuke it all and start over. It was part of our weekly batch of Blockbuster VHS videos that we always picked up on Friday (we'd watch the best one on Friday night with Pizza Hut pizza for dinner then watch the rest throughout the weekend.

Stonekeep and DOOM II multiplayer were the games of the time. In the evening, I picked up my friend, Chris, and brought him back to my house (as a 10th grader, he couldn't drive yet) so we could play against Jack over the 28.8k modem.

The next morning, I started on my college applications (all in-state). The forms themselves took a trip through our old-fashioned typewriter, while the personal essay was dutifully tailored to each school and printed on our LaserJet 5 printer. One only needs to read the pithy closing argument to see why I got into college:

The path I have taken through school has given me many options to choose from. I plan to attend college where I will earn a double major in Computer Science and Music Theory/Composition. I chose these two fields because they were interesting, meaningful in my life, and also because they were at completely opposite ends of the career spectrum. Today, when someone asks me what I want to be when I grow up, I simply smile and reply, "Taller." I leave myself open to new ideas and possibilities. Hopefully, I will be prepared for any road I travel upon after I have entered the rest of my life.

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Friday, November 20, 2020

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

The Rising Tied by Fort Minor:
I purchased this album on the strength of the single, High Road. There are a few good hooks throughout but as is often the case with these impulse buys, none of the songs were as strong as the one I already liked. Most of the other songs fall into the "white rapper complaining about how hard life is" category, which gets old very quickly unless you're The Lab Rats.

Final Grade: B-

Paper Mario: The Origami King:
I need to accept the fact that the Paper Mario series will never again be as good as The Thousand Year Door. I bought this as a game that Maia could watch and enjoy (and she does, sometimes), but it's held back by stale story, slow-scrolling text, and helpful sprites that overexplain the simplest puzzles. The worst part is the awful combat system that has no effect on the game other than to slow down your progress. Every time the game starts to get fun, a random battle pops up with a boring timed puzzle and kills my will to keep going. I'm now hoping that Maia forgets that this game exists so we never have to play it again.

Final Grade: C-

Asgard's Wrath:
The first AAA game for the Oculus Rift is pretty impressive initially but soon slows into a grind. Every Rift game has a built-in cost of me moving the computer into the VR room, and eventually I stopped wanting to do that. I would probably enjoy it a lot more with less setup -- however the direction that Facebook is taking the Oculus Rift (requiring Facebook accounts, abandoning PCs, and charging $200 to fix inherent issues in the first hardware iteration) has mostly turned me off to VR.

Final Grade: B-

Superstore, Season Four:
There are a number of great episodes in this season which makes the inclusion of 2-3 really awful episodes more glaring. It feels like the writers had a great flow going but had to let the son of the executive producer write a few episodes because "he majored in screenplays at community college". We still finished it very quickly and enjoyed it for the most part.

Final Grade: B

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Monday, November 23, 2020

Thanksgiving Week

I'll be taking the week off from updating this site so we can celebrate all of the holidays at the same time. Updates will resume next Monday, the 30th.

I hope you all have fun, safe plans for the holiday!

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

 

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