03/2021

Monday, March 01, 2021

BD Cartoon Day, Part II

a selection of original cartoons from the business development Slack channel I maintain at work

Other posts in this series: Part I | Part II

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Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken 3 years ago today, on March, 3, 2018.

Maia was about 8 months old and in the awkward phase where she wasn't quite crawling yet. While this was a good time for making sure she didn't get away, it required a lot more intervention to move and position her (or her toys) to reset her rapidly decreasing interest meter.

This particular use of a Walmart mirror of questionable construction integrity probably lasted for about 3 minutes before she needed a new experience.

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Friday, March 05, 2021

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

The Big Year (PG):
A quiet, low-key movie about bird enthusiasts trying to see the most different bird species in a single year. It's not hilarious (although it seems like many of the reviews online hoped for 100 laughs per minute), but it's not really trying to be. We watched this because Rebecca had just read and enjoyed the source book.

Final Grade: B

7 Wonders: Duel:
This is our favourite two-player game at the moment. The instruction manual reads like an awful translation, where the writer tries to avoid confusion by overexplaining things but just ends up making it more confusing. Once you've played a few games, you'll find a nice little strategy game where there are always plenty of levers to pull and potential paths to victory.

Final Grade: B+

Vice Principals, Season One:
I picked this show out because I missed watching Walton Goggins star in things. This is a dark comedy about two vice principals competing to become the principal of a high school. It goes a little bit too far, especially in the second and penultimate episodes, but it owns the vibe it's trying for and has some really funny scenes. The show is at its best when it focuses on the teachers acting less mature than the students, or on the budding bromance between the two leads in spite of the fact that they detest each other.

Final Grade: B

Weighted Blanket:
To make up for the lack of crazy holiday party this year, my company bought everyone their choice of swag in the $100 range. This weighted blanket (twin size) was the least useless gift in a sea of Bluetooth devices, air fryers, and unnecessary electronics. While it did help me stay asleep more consistently in the few days I tried it, it made getting up to use the bathroom a war between bladder control and gravity. It also exacerbated my constant feelings of cat-flattened ankles. I might try it again someday when Rebecca sleeps with fewer than 500 pillows of her own, but it just doesn't fit my lifestyle right now.

Final Grade: B-

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Monday, March 08, 2021

Maia Battle Report: 3.666667 Years

Maia is 4 months away from turning 4. In the picture above, she is learning Italian by rote through her Let It Go Elsa doll (she figured out the multi-step sequence to change the doll's language settings).

Maia usually wakes up around 7:30 these days -- the days of 9 - 10 AM are a wistful memory. Once, dreading another 7:30 wake-up, I told her at bedtime that "the bunnies" wanted her to sleep late, even to 9. She said, "I'll try but that seems like a long time." She got up at 7.

She goes to her pre-preschool three times a week from 9:30 - 12:00 and is still in a masked class with about 4 other kids. She likes "long" school, probably because she doesn't have to hang out with us all day long. We have her enrolled in a Tuesday / Thursday 4 hour preschool class in the Fall, but Rebecca is considering changing that to Monday, Wednesday, Friday.

She's not reading yet, although she has memorized many books and can locate words based on their first letters. She can count to somewhere in the twenties. If we are talking, she will quietly interject, "Hey, I have something to say." She didn't want to go with Rebecca for grocery pickup because "grocery pickup takes a lot of patience".

Her biggest love at the moment is Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, a game which I gave C- to, but is a perfect activity for her to watch and offer directions and suggestions in. (I also let her hit A to open chests). She likes solving shrines so we can get more Stamina Vessels and loves finding hidden Koroks in the world. (She and Rebecca also made a Korok mask). She retains knowledge of every single puzzle we have ever solved (and proudly helped the Smith kids solve a shrine that we had solved over three weeks ago).

I have a massive Zelda strategy guide that weighs 5.07 pounds and Maia has claimed it for her own. She reads through it and bookmarks pages with her favourite pictures. After we play a bit, she'll go to the book and find the pages where we were. We draw maps, do imaginary games that involve shooting different types of arrows, and invent new shrines related to daily activities like the "Blah Kolive" shrine that probably baked our pizza. When nothing better is going on, she likes to take the book to Rebecca and just flip through it to explain what the pictures and tiny font are all about.

We'll obviously play less as the weather gets warmer, but the activity has been a lifesaver for this pandemic-laced winter!

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Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken in the winter of either '85 or '86. My dad is going through his old negatives and digitizing things, so there may be a new supply of snapshots to post in future months.

The amount of snow we got in Alexandria in the 80s was abysmal, and creating a snowman usually meant leaving large swathes of ugly grass in its wake. This particular snowman seems to be missing a torso, but that's okay because he can clench his butt cheeks to grip a broom.

I'm also wearing my Transformer boots, but they did not enable me to turn into anything.

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Friday, March 12, 2021

Patio Day

Our patio came to life in just 13 hours over 3 days.

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Monday, March 15, 2021

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

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

5:46 AM: Showered and ready for work.
5:57 AM: Bagel for breakfast.
6:50 AM: Working on presentation slides.
7:44 AM: Trying on all the shoes under Rebecca's side of the bed.
12:15 PM: Working lunch.
2:32 PM: Foraging for daffodils in the common area.
3:00 PM: Working on another website.
3:47 PM: Running on the treadmill and watching Good Girls.
5:02 PM: Maia reads about Zelda while Rebecca video-chats with Marc. She is wearing her "Zora Armor" which lets her swim up waterfalls.
5:19 PM: Breakfast for dinner.
5:42 PM: Family dinner.
7:01 PM: Reading one of the ghetto Berenstain Bears spin-offs for bedtime.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2021

How Toddlers Are Like a Denial-of-Service Attack

My brain is like a web server that accepts network connection requests from the world.

It has a pool of dormant connections, waiting for sounds. When a potential conversation begins, my brain has to spin up a new connection by identifying the speaker, confirming that an actual conversation is occurring (rather than distracting background sounds), and then dedicating the line to listening intently.

After the conversation concludes, my brain sends the signal for the connection to close. The connection gets freed up and returns to the pool to be reused for the next conversation that comes along.

Conversations with Maia are more challenging. Because she is still refining her speaking skills, a simple statement may require multiple repetitions to complete. Something like, "Do you think we should have olives for dinner?" will come out as, "Do, do, do, do you, do you, do, do, do you, do you think we should, we should, do you, do you, do, do, do, do you, do you think we should have olives for dinner?". (The last half of the sentence always pours out flawlessly -- there must be a scientific reason for this).

In trying to parse this information, my brain will quickly open up a new connection for each of Maia's attempts. This immediately uses up my pool of connections and overloads my brain.

Of course, my brain soon realizes that most of these hanging connections can be canceled and reclaimed. However, I am an introvert. I have a very small pool of connections to begin with and each one takes a long time to free up after use, sometimes as long as 24 hours.

The end result of conversations with Maia (amplified by pandemic quarantine conditions) is that I am constantly operating with a reduced capacity of pooled connections and they often don't get fully cleaned up or recharged before reuse. I may end up hearing things without actually understanding them or misassociating different social stories from different people in my memory because of the jumble.

This is one reason why learning a new game is less likely to be something I want to spend free time on -- the intensity of focus needed to learn a new ruleset is a waste to me if my brain is already filled to capacity processing basic conversations and remembering baseline logistical household needs, especially if I won't play the game again in the near future!

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Friday, March 19, 2021

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Prison Break, Season Five:
I had no expectations going into this "reboot" season, since the original four seasons ended in a way that needed no continuation. It's just "okay", full of uncharismatic side characters and an unnecessary new setting (Yemen). There was less ingenuity in the flow this time -- instead of watching complicated prison break plans come to life, it felt more like the characters were just running away from danger the whole time. The ending was a good wrap-up and fan service. If you were a Prison Break fan a decade ago, this is a fun jaunt that you can leave on in the background while you exercise.

Final Grade: C+

Moulin Rouge: The Musical:
I somehow missed that this movie from my grad school years ended up as a Broadway musical in 2018. I enjoyed the soundtrack on my first listen, with some of the medleys rewritten to incorporate new popular music. It's loud and flashy and exceedingly shallow -- once the cleverness of the mash-ups fades, the performances feel rote and weak. Fun background music, but not a musical I'd necessarily want to see.

Final Grade: C

Lupin, Part One:
This French show about a criminal that bases his plans around a pulp fiction series was great. What starts out as a basic heist setup turns into a deeper character study and revenge plot with plenty of humourous moments. Although Part One only has 8 episodes (ending in a cliffhanger), we're already looking forward to the next part coming this summer. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: A

Vice Principals, Season Two:
The second and final season of this dark comedy takes everything that was pretty good from the first season and improves upon it. The tone is perfected and the actors feel right at home as their characters get deconstructed and face the consequences of last season. We missed the departure of one of the main cast, but it wouldn't have made sense to keep this character around after last season's finale.

Final Grade: B+

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Monday, March 22, 2021

Passing of Time Day

signs that both the weather and the pandemic are thawing

Vaccinated grandparents indoors!

Maia can now spell her name at school.

Maia helps me grade the land around the new patio.

Enjoying our new fire pit.

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

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Vignette Day: Emerging Empathy

BU: "Looks like we're going to need some more milk pretty soon."

MU: "Put it on the list, Daddy."

BU: "Done!"

MU: "I will have a waffle for breakfast tomorrow."

BU: "...Okay?"

MU: "Then Mommy can have the rest of the milk on her oatmeal."

BU: "That's very nice of you to think about Mommy."

MU: "Take a picture of me on my horse."

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Friday, March 26, 2021

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

SIXKIWI Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifiers for Bedroom, 3L 30Hours Essential Oil Diffuser for Large Room,Easy Top Fill&Clean,Never Leak,Whisper-Quiet,Auto Shut-Off for Home Office Baby(White&Grey):
Cementing Amazon's lead in becoming the #1 "giant flea market full of counterfeit goods where every product title is stuffed full of search keywords" is the humidifier department. None of these humidifiers last for more than a year or two, and by that time any past research into humidifiers is moot because all of the companies have retired their products and replaced them with slightly different knock-offs and a brand new batch of 5000 fake positive reviews.

The nice features of this one are that it has a single dim light which can be covered with electrical tape, and it can be filled from the top. The con: a single fill will only last for one night because there is only one setting, "MONSOON". As soon as you crack the knob out of the OFF position, the humidifier begins spewing dank clouds of moisture like dry ice in an 80s rock video. There is very little difference in output if you continue to rotate the knob another 359 degrees, although the MAX setting will cause the water horse from Frozen 2 to appear and gallop off into the distance. Would not recommend this, even for your Home Office Baby.

Final Grade: D

Good Girls, S3:
The third season of Good Girls immediately discards some of the most interesting ideas birthed in the last season finale. The whole season treads water and plays it safe, as if the writers really don't know how to evolve the characters. I liked the sideplots involving the changes to Ruby's family dynamics but the other leads felt wasted. There are many individual scenes full of funny dialogue, but it's not quite worth slogging through the plot to get to them. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: C

Tongue-Tied by Earl:
A collection of catchy songs from a female vocalist in the vein of Caro Emerald and the electroswing movement. The title track is a good representative track.

Final Grade: B

Coming 2 America:
The first fifteen minutes of this movie are weighed down by obligatory call-backs to the original (including repeated old jokes), but it eventually manages to work on its own terms. Old fans will appreciate it more but Rebecca liked it in spite of having never watched the original. Free on Amazon Prime.

Final Grade: B-

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Monday, March 29, 2021

Weekend Wrap-up

Thanks to the advances in science known as "vaccinated grandparents", Maia got to spend her first weekend away from home in over a year. They have better cereal options than we do.

On Friday night, Rebecca and I had Panera for dinner and watched Music and Lyrics for the first time since our first date in 2007. On Saturday, Rebecca worked in the afternoon while I did some website work for Don Maitz, tamed more of the wilderness and trash in the common area behind our house, tried playing DOOM: Eternal, and watched the impenetrable movie, Tenet. Kathy stopped by in the afternoon to drop off her cats before an OBX beach trip so we are now up to 3 felines.

Meanwhile, Maia helped the grandparents plant their bulbs and then took a walk to Ben Brenman Park, which did not exist when I was an Alexandria resident.

How was your weekend?

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Wednesday, March 31, 2021

End-of-the-Month Highlights Day

New photos have been added to the Life, 2021 album.

  • Events
    • Lake Anne visit with Rebecca's parents on W 3/10.

    • Birthday dinner with my parents on S 3/14.

    • First fire pit fire on F 3/19.

    • Another visit with my parents on T 3/22 so they could finish watching Hamilton.

    • Maia spent a weekend with the grandparents, F 3/26 - S 3/28.

    • The Smiths' cats joined us for the week on S 3/27.

  • Projects
    • Had a new patio built, T 3/9 - H 3/11.

    • Blazed a trail to our secret daffodil patch in the common area on S 3/13.

    • Gave a company-wide presentation on Business Development at work on F 3/19.

    • Spent most of my free time working on another website project, to be released next month.

  • Consumerism
    • Got back into gaming for the first time since September of last year, starting with Doom: Eternal.

    • Enjoyed new music from AJR and Von Smith.

    • Nothing amazing on TV these days.

March's Final Grade: B, Things continue to improve!

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