Posts from 05/2022

Monday, May 02, 2022

Maia's Art Day

Notable artwork from the month of April

One afternoon, under the watchful eye of the babysitter, Miss Laura, Maia decided to make cutout bunnies. She painstakingly outlined and then cut each bunny, as well as clothes and shoes that could be folded onto the bunnies.

Here is a self-portrait Maia made that matches the clothes she was wearing that day:

So many bunnies holding hands:

The Easter Bunny is here hiding eggs. Notable hiding places include a bird's nest and the trunk of a car:

These bunnies just ran a race and received trophies:

tagged as offspring, media | permalink | 1 comment
day in history

Wednesday, May 04, 2022

Memory Day: Snapshots

These pictures are the only surviving pictures from our Quatro de Mayo barbeque nine years ago, on May 4, 2013.

My idea of a themed barbeque is to head to Costco the morning of and purchase anything related to that theme, which is why we ended up with a "Beers of Mexico" sampler pack and a pineapple (which we then had to learn how to cut up properly). We also bought a pack of flimsy flat-sided toothpicks that constantly broke off in foods. We eventually just threw them out in favor of upper-crust round toothpicks.

The teeny Smith kids attended and ate nothing but fruit. In the background, you can see the original shed which was finally replaced in June 2015. The fence is two separate shades because the left half was destroyed and rebuilt after the 2012 derecho. The rest of the backyard looks virtually identical today.

tagged as memories | permalink | 1 comment
day in history

Friday, May 06, 2022

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Palm Springs:
We went into this movie sight-unseen based on its appearance in a list of "best stuff to watch on Hulu", and that may be why we were so pleasantly surprised with how good it was. The movie does a good job balancing several contrasting tones, and never devolves into the realm of parody you might expect after seeing Andy Samberg on the cover. Everything is held together by great performances from all the leads (I've yet to see a bad Cristin Milioti performance). On Hulu.

Final Grade: B+

Fallout 76:
My first impressions of this game continue to hold true. If you can get past the random quest bugs and awful user interface, there is a very fun (albeit shallow) game here that offers just enough depth to keep you coming back. I don't think I would go back and play Fallout 4 again as this game is just slightly better in all regards.

Final Grade: B

Dave, Season One:
This show is a fictional take on the life of rapper, Dave Burd (stage name: Lil' Dicky), who actually released a full album that wasn't bad. It starts out as a typical raunchy slacker comedy but then morphs into more of a "white" Atlanta with a lot of nuance and unexpected depth. We would have liked a little more rapping involved, but finished the whole first season in about a week. On Hulu.

Final Grade: B+

Better Call Saul, Season Five:
This was a great, fast-paced season that easily surpassed the previous "hole-building" plot that anchored season four. The storylines are starting to intersect more which makes for more interesting scenes. I was also surprised by the character progression in the finale -- a nice feat for a show where we already essentially know how things end up.

Final Grade: B+

tagged as reviews, games | permalink | 0 comments
day in history

Monday, May 09, 2022

Mouse Update Day

An anticlimactic ending to our mouse saga

The war against Little Asshole continued through the month of February and March. I scoured the house daily, using the presence or absence of mouse poop to triangulate the mouse's general living location. I applied flank pressure like a Civil War general to guide the mouse towards areas of the house that were easier to trap. Throughout, the mouse survived and avoided all traps. It even got one foot caught in a glue trap but managed to get free, unscathed, after a couple hours.

March 30 was the last day that I found new mouse droppings. On March 31, we took in some guest cats for a week. Unlike Amber, one of these cats was young and could actually smell and hear so we had hoped that she would finally catch the mouse. Unfortunately, the mouse never again made an appearance and we have yet to see or smell a mouse corpse.

The current working theories: The mouse ran outside to die of old age. The mouse prophesized the coming of the cat hero and fled. The mouse stole so much of Amber's food over the months that it is living safely in the walls and no longer needs to poop on my carpet. The mouse did die somewhere in the house but we won't know for sure until the hot summer months.

Hopefully this movie will not have a sequel.

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 2 comments
day in history

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Random Chart Day: Most Played PC Games on Steam

Alternate Uses of This 1837 Hours

  • Obtain a 2nd job, working 35 hours per week for a full year.

  • Watch the extended edition of the Lord of the Rings trilogy 161 times.

  • Walk continuously from Quebec City to Reno, Nevada and back again.

tagged as data, games | permalink | 0 comments
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Friday, May 13, 2022

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

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

6:10 AM: Showered and ready for work.
6:21 AM: Bagel for breakfast.
7:05 AM: Fifth time I've been to the Herndon office since we moved here in April 2020.
8:37 AM: Wearing one of my six dress shirts.
10:15 AM: Welcomed home.
10:38 AM: Day Two of this Eagle Scout Project: Saving this stretch of the sidewalk from encroaching soil, trash, and poison ivy. Got up to that car yesterday (16 sidewalk tiles).
12:54 PM: Calling it a day after 13 additional sidewalk tiles, 1 bag of trash (including a 6-pack of Corona and 1 Heineken), and 12 square feet of ivy and vine removal.
1:29 PM: Stretching EVERYTHING while watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
4:10 PM: Gaming during everyone's naps.
5:08 PM: Biking in the sunny rain ("It's like a rainforest here!").
5:26 PM: Pizza for dinner while our fourth continues to have his second nap.
6:02 PM: Belated dinner for Ian.

tagged as 12 of 12 | permalink | 1 comment
day in history

Monday, May 16, 2022

Census Day

While there are several visible, distinguished visitors to this historic website, I still see some repeat visits in my website logs who have been coming for years but never posted a single comment. I see lurkers from Philly, DC, Ashburn, Centreville, and other exotic locales. There's one from Boston that arrived one day after Googling the name of someone whose wedding I attended, and they check in every few months to see if I ever mention that person again (spoiler: I never have). There's even exactly 1 subscriber to my Atom feed, which has been chugging along in underrated obscurity (not unlike the Netflix show, Dark) since 2008.

Who's still out there? I would love to hear from you. Regular or lurker, come out and say hello:

  • Who are you?
  • What is the most satisfying thing in life?
  • What have you done or hope to do in 2022?

If at least 4 unique, real people respond by Tuesday, May 31, 2022 at 1800 Eastern, a randomly-selected commenter will get a $10 Amazon gift certificate.

tagged as website, contests | permalink | 7 comments
day in history

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Memory Day: Landmark Mall

Last Thursday, the demolition of Landmark Mall in Alexandria finally began.

As the nearest mall to my childhood home (1.1 miles by car), I have many memories of what this mall was like, even if I didn't spend much time there. My earliest memories of the mall was in the 80s when it was an outdoor mall with long promenades. The benches down the middle of each path were bordered with pyramid-like slopes (very chic in concrete architecture) which my sister and I would run up and down the slopes as our parents roamed from department store to drug store.

When the mall became enclosed, visits became a triangle of stops: Kenny's shoes for discount footware, Sears for Boy Scout merit badge books, and the Electronic Boutique up on the third floor for PC and Nintendo games. We never ate at the Food Court because "We have food at home". This same argument applied to the arcade as well: "Why are you going to pay 25 cents for a two minute game when we have a computer at home?"

If I recall correctly, whatever we were looking for at the mall was often out of stock, so we'd pile back into the car and hit the next closest mall, Springfield Mall. As this started happening more and more, we eventually stopped going to Landmark much at all.

Landmark finally closed in 2017, after which it became a truckyard for millions of Amazon Prime delivery trucks. It took another 5 years to cut through red tape for the redevelopment. Hopefully the mixed-use development is successful (they're all the rage these days), although it doesn't seem like they took my advice about putting a data center underneath it and some open-air craft breweries on the top level.

tagged as memories | permalink | 2 comments
day in history

Friday, May 20, 2022

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

The Outlaws, Season One:
This was an unexpectedly pleasant ensemble comedy about a rag-tag group of petty criminals doing community service together, with great performances from Stephen Merchant and Christopher Walken. The characters are likeable and the plot never gets too menacing or overwhelming. Its only flaw is that many of the subplot threads are dropped without resolution by the end, in favor of wrapping up the "main" storyline, so a few characters seem to have sudden character changes to align them better with that plot. On Amazon Prime.

Final Grade: B+

Modern Family, Season Eleven:
This show should have ended years ago, but it was just pleasant enough to watch when nothing else was available. In the later seasons, we found ourselves tolerating most of the B stories until the characters we actually cared about were back onscreen. That said, this is a decent final season with a finale that's the right balance of funny and sentimental.

Final Grade: B-

404 by Barns Courtney:
A nice, if a little short, follow-up to Barns Courtney's great debut album, Attractions of Youth. 99 is a good, representative track.

Final Grade: B

Reacher, Season One:
The first episode of this mystery / thriller is captivating, with a ridiculous Marty Stu trope lead character and some interesting mystery elements. It starts better than it ends, though, as the plot progression is very by-the-numbers (coincidental deaths, key intelligence popping up at just the right time). By the end, I was mainly watching for the evolving bromance between the two lead guys, and didn't care as much about the plot resolution or ultraviolent action sequences.

Final Grade: B-

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Monday, May 23, 2022

Ian Year 1 Month 1 Battle Report

Ian is now a month past 1 Year and still weighing about 21 pounds.

He is very interactive these days, and his favourite games include booping your nose with his finger, giving you something to pretend-eat, pulling up your shirt to boop your belly button, and saying goodbye to everyone and everything even when no one is leaving.

He is better at roving around the room playing quietly while I work or watch a show (he is uninterested by the TV unless there is a TV show theme song playing) and will always come over to see what Maia is doing if she's in the same room.

His sleeping schedule has switched towards a huge (2 hour) nap around noon although I still try to fool him into doing the traditional double nap (1.5 hour at 10:30 and 1.5 hour at 4:00) whenever I can.

His words are mainly first syllables -- "brrr" for bird, "maaa" for meow, and "daa" when he hears me tramping up the stairs from the basement where I spend most of the day working.

On Saturday and Sunday mornings, he and I take a stroller walk around the neighbourhood around 7 AM while the women of the house sleep. He silently enjoys the ride, kicking his feet, and stays awake for the whole time. Outside of the stroller, he likes trying to climb things, and always has his little leg swiveling up to get to a next level. When he's trying to scale something tall, though, he just looks like a dog trying to pee on a fire hydrant.

He loves eating veggie burgers and had his first chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast yesterday. He likes drinking water out of a toddler cup but is not yet a fan of whole milk. In a single meal, he can clear a serving of broccoli, veggie burger, a Belvita cracker, and an entire squeeze pouch of assorted vegetables.

tagged as offspring, day-to-day | permalink | 0 comments
day in history

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

What's Maia Up To Day

Maia is just 6 weeks away from being a five-year-old! She is awesome.

She's nearly at the age where I started kindergarten which means that, if she's anything like I was, 2022 will be the first year where she has strong core memories of things that go on. While her recall of events is still spectacular, some early memories (like almost anything pre-pandemic) have faded away.

Maia is always wearing a headband -- either she's a cat, or a princess, or a princess cat. She is less into bunnies these days, and her two main stuffed animals are Original Bunny and Little Cat. However, she will still interject into conversations to compare whatever we're talking about to how they do it in Bunnytown.

Maia is not shy. During her afternoon "quiet time" and the hour between bedtime and actually being asleep, she will continue to tell endless stories or sing songs and talk to herself in her room. When she's on the playground, she has no problems running up to people and joining in the fun. After anonymous playground child #204 had to go home, Maia yelled after her, "My name is Maia and I had fun playing with you!" She is getting used to playdates again, especially at the playground, but still mostly plays next to people instead of with them.

Maia still enjoys puzzles, coloring, and drawing -- all things she'll do on her own without provocation if we're busy with Ian. Any time she gets a new activity book or learning game, she'll be distracted for at least an hour. She still does Khan Academy Kids on the iPad a few times per week. We discovered that the "Library" of lessons in that program is in reverse chronological order, so she's spent much of her time on 2nd Grader lessons (quarters of a casserole and groups of 10) instead of the Pre-K lessons (syllables and rhyming words). One night, she opted for a narrated story about Africa instead of eating dessert.

Her favourite movie is Encanto (favourite character: Isabella) although she'll still watch the Frozen duology when she feels like she's over-Encantoed. She has drifted away from Mario Kart because she's not quite dexterous enough to actually steer the karts, but she's gotten bored of "autopilot" mode where she just mashes the gas button. I predict that year 5 is where she'll finally get good at joystick manipulation and start playing games in earnest. Recently, she's been content just watching me play Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze.

Maia graduated from Kids Under Construction preschool yesterday and her last day is Friday. Bring on the summer camps!

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

Friday, May 27, 2022

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Russian Doll, Season Two:
As big fans of Season One, we were hugely disappointed in Season Two. Natasha Lyonne is great as usual, but her character's motivations in the first half are poorly defined, leading the lessons learned by the end to be underwhelming. This would have been better as a one season limited series. On Netflix.

Final Grade: C-

Ronny Chieng: Speakeasy:
Ronny Chieng's latest special is a little lackluster. A few laugh out loud jokes are buried in medicore, uneven material. Fun enough to have on in the background, and would probably be fine as just audio. On Netflix.

Final Grade: C+

Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Season Two:
I abandoned this show after one season in 2014 but decided to give it another chance after watching Palm Springs. The second season is appreciably funnier than the first, although the weakest point is still watching Andy Samberg make faces at the camera like he's in an SNL skit. On Hulu.

Final Grade: B

After You by Jack Penate:
This album is eminently forgettable. I purchased the extended edition. After 10 minutes without any hooks, I looked at the playlist and realized I had started with the "Church Session" acoustic versions of all the songs. I then switched to the original album versions only to find that they were just as monochrome. The playful lyrics, catchy melodies, and bouncy rhythms from his first two albums are all absent.

Final Grade: C

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day in history

Monday, May 30, 2022

End-of-the-Month Highlights Day

New photos have been added to the Life, 2022 album.

  • Events
    • Maia returned home from a weekend with my parents on S 5/1 (She went to the Zoo!)

    • Family dinner at Bungalow Lakehouse on W 5/4.

    • Rebecca had Mother's Day Tea at preschool on H 5/5.

    • Had Tammy and Patrick over for dinner (steak and mushrooms) on S 5/7.

    • Rebecca took the kids to see Char at the Goodwin House on S 5/8.

    • Family dinner at Miller's (first time since the pandemic) on W 5/11.

    • Had the Winters over for dinner on S 5/14.

    • Went to the HOA meeting on W 5/18.

    • Had Maia's preschool friend, Ava, over for a playdate on S 5/21.

    • Rebecca took the kids to Taylorstown on S 5/22.

    • Attended Maia's preschool graduation on T 5/24.

    • Elizabeth and Steve stopped by for a visit on their roadtrip from Illinois to New York on W 5/25. Saw more Hickses on F 5/27.

    • Visited the Smiths on S 5/28.

    • Visited my parents on M 5/30.

  • Projects
    • Rejuvenated an overrun stretch of sidewalk along Lillard Road, W 5/11 - H 5/12 and M 5/23.

    • Unclogged the gutters on F 5/20.

  • Consumerism
    • Still playing Fallout 76, at level 181.

    • Enjoyed watching The Outlaws this month.

    • No new music or books this month.

May's Final Grade: B+, life is feeling more normal!

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