Advent of Code, the annual midnight coding competition has started! You can follow my daily progress on my company's Fastest Solve Times page. It's kind of nice that, ever since I moved my office down to the basement, I have a guest bed to crash in before and after. I no longer have to worry about waking up the light sleepers of the household.
Schitt's Creek, Season Four: A pleasant enough season, although I'm sick of the Moira character who I feel should have gained way more self-awareness after three seasons. Free on Netflix.
Final Grade: B
The Much Much How How and I by Cosmo Sheldrake: Come Along came up on one of my Amazon stations and took me down the rabbit hole of this aurally unique album. It's a mix of whimsical lyrics, wind orchestrations, and soundscapes like the ones I might have tried to write with MIDI as an undergrad.
Final Grade: B+
Pieces of April (PG-13): This was our "Thanksgiving Movie" fare, starring Katie Holmes as someone struggling to prepare Thanksgiving dinner for a reunion with a judgemental mother. It feels a lot like a road trip movie for most of its running time, and the wrap-up requires a very abrupt "change of heart" scene. Free on Amazon Prime.
Final Grade: B-
Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox: Not a review of the pictured album specifically, but more of their entire body of work which might take years to wade through. The Postmodern Jukebox project creates vintage arrangements of vapid pop songs using a revolving selection of talented musicians. Great examples include Gnarls Barkley's Crazy, Tears for Fears' Mad World and George Michael's Careless Whisper. The music videos add an extra layer to the production with their simplicity and humorous touches.
I had fun in the snow. I and my sister made 2 snowmen. What fun it was! And I through a snowball at my sister's face. And made a little hollow fort. And throuh snow in the air. I went out two times. Ellen went two times too.
It snowed hard yester day. I did not know where the animals were hibernating. I went inside then I had hot dogs and Potato rounds inside. I walked on ice with out slipping there.
Another 2nd place finish ($200) for me this year! I was actually in 3rd place on the night before the final puzzle and only inched into 2nd through luck and competitor exhaustion.
The competition for Advent of Code this year was ridiculous, partially due to COVID-19 keeping everyone at home with nothing better to do. In fact while Novetta usually gets a huge number of people in the Global Top 100 throughout the month, I had the only global record this year, and it was only because I was persistent with hitting F5 during the first day's server outage (due to the competition's unexpected popularity). Here is a reenactment of the insane technical skill I needed to get this record.
As this rancid mayonnaise jar of a year ends, you might feel aghast at the behaviors or beliefs of other American citizens or hopeless about your ability to make things better. Please remember that none of what we're seeing came out of thin air. The siege lines between political factions, the man wearing his mask under his nose, and the innate fear of "the other side" -- all of these are just symptoms of deeper issues.
One reason we've gotten here is our smartphone-induced need to boil everything down to a sound bite without nuance. This has lowered the prestige of education, science, and journalism, resulting in a chaotic, fragmented news environment where disinformation is amplified. When every story is framed with exactly two sides, one "side" has to lose for the other to win and it becomes easier to dehumanize others while safe inside an echo chamber.
We need to fix causes, not symptoms. We cannot repair the divisions in this country without first repairing or reinventing the influential sources that shape peoples' beliefs and understanding of the world.
I don't have a sound bite solution that will fix everything, but here are some simple things I'll be doing in 2021.
I'll continue to support traditional journalism and make it a point to read past the headlines of newspapers with differing viewpoints (allsides.com makes this easier).
I'll try to look past peoples' behavior or bumper stickers and remember that it's dangerously easy to reduce someone to a false caricature when I don't know anything else about them.
I'll try to be the best example of the type of person I'd want around me in my local community and professional network.