Posts from 10/2022

Monday, October 03, 2022

Thirteenth 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 | 2021 | 2022

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Wednesday, October 05, 2022

What's Maia Up To Day

Maia is 5.25 years old this month and chugging along happily in school. She likes cats the most and bunnies the second most, and is always wearing some kind of headband with animal ears or crowns on it.

She gets up after 6:30 AM for school (bus at 7) and arrives home at 2:30 PM. Rebecca and Ian walk her out in the morning, and then we all pick her up at the bus stop. She doesn't do much "quiet time" anymore except on the weekends. We still try to get her to bed around 7 and she's usually asleep by 9. Unfortunately, the early wake-up has made the weekends longer since she can no longer force herself to sleep late into the morning.

I love exploring her room after she's been playing to see the things she's drawn and the imagination games she's played. Once, I found a blue purse full of broken chunks of clay and flat Duplo pieces -- she was pretending to be Mirabel Madrigal and discovering a vision buried in her room. Another time, there was a big box of Duplos (only green) behind the chair -- this was her litter box when she was a cat.

She has a surfeit of toys, games, and activities to play with now, such that she's rarely bored of doing any 1 of them and always feels like she needs more time to enjoy everything life has to offer. For her afternoons, we'll rotate through sports/biking outside, pretend games, drawing, puzzles, Khan Academy Kids on the iPad, Switch games, or PC games (Contraption Maker or Stray).

We don't know a whole lot about what she does at school because, like every kid, she doesn't want to talk about the school day after just having lived through it. She has a Chromebook assigned to her that stays at school but she says they just use the computers for games. I showed her the ancient "Luigi's Mansion" game series on the 3DS last weekend and she said she'd already seen it before in one of her "Brain Breaks" at school. "Brain Breaks" are not on the Chromebook -- it's some TV-based physical activity where they have to move around. All we really know about school is that she earns at least 3 "Dojo points" from her teacher every day for things like working hard, participating, or being a champion. This gamification of school is visible through a mobile app that constantly bugs you to upgrade to "Dojo Premium" (we have not).

Maia has a pretty nice life and routine at the moment. She enjoys her weekly three hours with the babysitter (in our own house), will involve Ian in her games without much complaining, and enjoys jokes and farts. She still raises her hand to interject in a conversation, an amazing habit instilled at Kids Under Construction preschool last year.

Currently, she wants to be a jellyfish for Halloween.

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Friday, October 07, 2022

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power (first episode):
I have no skin in the RING for whether this show succeeds (I'm not a big LotR fan at all, either the books or the movies) but I thought it was interesting that it had been review-bombed so heavily that Amazon actually hid all reviews from their site. I gave the first episode a shot and was pretty bored throughout. The dialogue, plots, and characters felt exceptionally generic. There should be a dRINGking game for all of the cliched touches. The lush, orchestral score behind every single scene was completely distracting and unnecessary. Introducing a new fantasy show or world is really tricky to get just right -- The Dark Crystal on Netflix had an awful first episode and an amazing rest of season while Game of Thrones on HBO had such a great first episode that even Rebecca liked it. This one was fine, but not intriguing enough for me to keep on watching. On Amazon Video.

Final Grade: C-

The Outlaws, Season Two:
Season two picks up right where the first ended, and feels more like the missing half the story rather than a brand new season. It felt like the writers weren't sure what to do with all of the characters and plots at the end of Season One, but they recover nicely here. The ending is a satisfyingly final wrap-up without cliffhangers. On Amazon Video.

Final Grade: A-

Sorry to Bother You (R):
This movie stars Lakeith Stanfield (who we loved in Atlanta) as a struggling call center employee who suddenly finds success by using his "white voice" (dubbed in perfectly by David Cross). It's bizarre, unsubtle in its message, and kind of morphs into a weird dystopian sci-fi movie for the last half hour. Even so, we were entertained throughout.

Final Grade: B

Reservation Dogs, Season One:
This is an under-the-radar series about friends on an Oklahoman reservation trying to get enough money to get away to California. It's very fun, especially the scenes of Dallas Goldtooth channeling Doug from Weeds as a spirit known as the Unknown Warrior. On Hulu.

Final Grade: A

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Monday, October 10, 2022

Weekend Wrap-up

On Friday night, we had leftover stuffed salmon from Costco for dinner. Maia had a hotdog because, "I'm not so sure about salmon."

On Saturday, Rebecca took Maia to see Disney on Ice, featuring abridged versions of Frozen and Encanto performed by ice-skating singers at the Patriot Center (which I just learned was rebranded with the ridiculous name, "EagleBank Arena", in 2015). Meanwhile, Ian and I visited my parents in Alexandria where Ian acquired new noisy toys to delight and enchant. The singing dump truck has the worst song every embedded in a toy -- even worse than the songs that Violet sings. Once everyone had returned home from their respective hajjs, we all went to the last hour of SterlingFest together. Maia jumped in two bounce houses and pet a bunny, then got sad when her balloon sword came untied and ultimately popped in the grass. Ian climbed the bars around the petting zoo and licked them heartily.

On Sunday, morning, Maia opened up an ice skating studio where she taught us how to ice skate:

The rest of the family went to the farmer's market while I stayed home and played Overwatch 2, a game which has nothing in it to justify the "2". After lunch, we built our first Fall fire in the fire pit and made s'mores while teaching Ian the ins and outs of not falling into a fire. We made a tray bake of chicken and farmer's market veggies for dinner.

How was your weekeend?

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 3 comments
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Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

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

6:04 AM: Showered and ready for the day.
6:17 AM: Bagel for breakfast.
8:30 AM: View from my office.
9:06 AM: Writing about software development.
10:56 AM: Welcomed home by Ian.
12:32 PM: At the doctor's office for my 2020 annual physical.
1:30 PM: Back to work in the home office.
2:49 PM: Post-kindergarten snack time.
3:48 PM: Helping me vacuum out the cars.
5:34 PM: Maia loves corned beef.
6:15 PM: Maia works on her 12 of 12.
6:54 PM: Tough Trucks for storytime.

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Friday, October 14, 2022

First Impressions: Overwatch 2

Overwatch was my favourite game for over 2 years, and a rarity in my gaming library as a competitive game that I could actually hold my own in (at least in the plebeian Unranked bracket). I finally stopped playing in May 2018 (with my account at level 1201 and over 1200 hours played) because the variability of real-time match lengths didn't work well with Maia's nap schedules, and I couldn't carve out enough time to practice enough and maintain my desired skill level.

It's from this nostalgic background that I decided I had to try Overwatch 2 at least once, in spite of the downward spiral that Blizzard's reputation has been in for many years, the departure of the well-liked game director, and the long delays and changes made to the vision of the new game.

Overwatch 2 has a weird identity. They shut down Overwatch to make way for the new game, and the key pieces that were supposed to be in it (lore-heavy PvE campaigns) are indefinitely delayed. So really, it just feels like a big content update for Overwatch with slightly fewer features, slightly fewer maps, and tons of cosmetic items locked behind a "Battle Pass" system where you pay periodically through the year to unlock extra rewards. It seems like no one is happy with the Battle Pass system and most of the extra rewards don't really seem worth paying real cash for.

That said, the GAMEPLAY in Overwatch 2 is very fresh -- featuring smaller 5-player teams with 1 fewer tank, rebalanced heroes and skills, and a new game mode. Games feel faster and less grindy now (will fewer tank shields to fight through) and it seems like it's a little easier to sway the course of a match as a solo player.

The new heroes (both those just introduced and those that came out while I was on hiatus) all feel pretty fun although I've gone back to my classic mains while I relearn the game. A lot of my precision skills (like Roadhog hooks) came back pretty quickly. A few of the tanks seem a little TOO tanky, but that's probably just because I'm unaware of their weaknesses.

Overall, I'm happy with how matches feel and looking forward to seeing how this game evolves. It may not take over my entire gaming life as it did back in 2016, but it's fun enough for a match here and there!

tagged as reviews, games | permalink | 1 comment
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Monday, October 17, 2022

Questions Day

It's been five and a half years since the last time I had a Questions Day! Want to get a second opinion on something? Ask anything you want, be it about myself, deeply philosophical music theory, politics, or something you don't understand. Need some recommendations? I'll answer all of your questions next week!

tagged as you speak | permalink | 3 comments
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Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken 8 years ago today, on October 19, 2014.

We were on a weeklong trip to Seattle and Olympic National Park. On this particular day, we opened with a trip to Pike's Market, the Space Needle, and an obligatory Chihuly exhibit. An afternoon nap later, we drove to Fremont to visit with Mollie and Hillel, Rebecca's college friends whose wedding we also attended in 2010. We hit a Seattle brewery, had dinner in a Turkish restaurant, and then went back to Mollie and Hillel's house to hang out with 3 cats and a dog.

This picture was taken across from the brewery under the Aurora Bridge. I still have the scar from my Outer Banks pool accident the month before, and it thankfully faded permanently after another year or so.

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Friday, October 21, 2022

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Reservation Dogs, Season Two:
The second season of this show is still very pleasant, but a little more "slice of life" rather than continuous plot. There's a nice wrap-up at the end which could serve as either a series or season finale. On Hulu.

Final Grade: B+

Everybody Hates Chris, Season One:
This show is ancient now, but it's perfect for when you're looking for a classic traditional sitcom to cleanse your palette of edgy, modern stuff. The narration by Chris Rock really doesn't add much -- his little punchlines that were great in stand-up comedy feel very sanitized and "made for TV" here. On Hulu.

Final Grade: B-

Pig (R):
This peculiar movie stars Nicholas Cage as a loner survivalist who dives into the underbelly of the restaurant industry when someone steals his truffle-hunting pig. It never goes quite where you think it will but has a nice arc and well-presented theme. Better than I thought it would be. On Hulu.

Final Grade: B

Sun Joe SPX3000-SJB 2030 Electric Pressure Washer:
I purchased this electric pressure washer after getting tired of borrowing and grappling with my dad's giant gas-powered monster. It's easy to use, has enough pressure to do the things I need (mainly siding and sidewalks), and best of all, the motor only runs when the trigger is held down. No more dealing with a gas motor choking, hoses falling out, or complicated soap controls.

Final Grade: B+

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Monday, October 24, 2022

Ian Year 1.5 Battle Report

Ian is now a year and a half old, which means he's no longer eligible for an Amazon return. I haven't weighed him in ages but you can get a sense of how big he is in the picture below (BU for scale).

His speaking skills are coming together quite well. Among his understood and understandable words are: no, bus, wheel, mail, (ba)nana, peach, whoa!, and bye bye. He can also itemize objects and count up to three (sometimes four). He still says "da da" but he also calls all sorts of things besides me "da da", like this cow on a tractor in one of his books. He can mimic words you give him, like "yogurt" and "poop".

His understanding of songs seems to be better than Maia's at this age. When he starts to sing Baa Baa Black Sheep or Row, Row, Row Your Boat, he gets the rhythm right and the relative placement of pitches is at least on par with a remedial freshman sightsinging class.

Ian's favourite activity is to have you read a book to him while he sits in your lap. Afterwards, he'll continue getting new books to read for as long as you let him. He's also happy with a reset, reading the same book over and over while pointing out all locations where there's a wheel on the pages. Once, I asked him to find the wheels on a page that didn't have wheels and, like a reasonable machine learning algorithm, decided that the round flower with petals was as close as he was going to get.

He also likes to draw, so we have taped a roll of easel paper across a table for him to scribble with crayons. We considered putting it on the wall, but worried that it might teach him to draw on the walls in general.

He will take a single nap each day, ranging from 30 to 120 minutes in length, which usually makes him pretty cranky in the evenings. On the weekends, I still get him out of the crib around 6:15, although the changes in sunlight make it hard for us to do our morning neighbourhood trash walk before 7 AM.

When nothing else is going on, he'll be doing whatever Maia is doing. She treats him very well and he likes to copy her actions. When both of them are at the crayon table, the house gets oddly silent for several minutes!

tagged as offspring, day-to-day | permalink | 1 comment
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Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Answers Day

The sequel to Questions Day

"If you had to have one, what would your last meal be composed of? " - Evil Mike

A rare ribeye grilled with salt and pepper, a side of shells and cheese (fake creamy cheese, not real melted cheese or powder-based cheese), and one Popeyes thigh, all washed down with a Magic Hat #9.

"Will you ever get another pet? If so, what would it be - cat, dog, other mammal, fish, reptile, invertebrate, plant...?" - Mom

Amber the cat turned 18 yesterday, and we're definitely waiting until she's passed before considering a new pet. We'd probably wait a year or so, allowing me a brief respite from 20 years of litter box duty (doody). After that, I'd get another cat, or an old medium-sized dog that doesn't bark. We have a book about owning bunnies that suggests they're a lot harder to care for than one might expect.

"Who do you think you are?" - Doobie

I'm the guy that blends into the background and takes everything in, anticpating everyone's needs and thinking of great ideas / solutions but rarely ever following through on them.

"How long before gas cars aren't a thing anymore?" - Doobie

Not in my lifetime. I predict that electric cars will take over and become uncontroversial in urban / suburban settings during the next 20 years (once the infrastructure is in place for ubiquitous charging). However, we will struggle for another 20 years to get a reliable national charging grid in place, so people will continue to keep a gas car around for longer trips and disaster scenarios.

tagged as you speak | permalink | 3 comments
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Friday, October 28, 2022

Halloween Throwback Day

Throwback to 10 years ago, at the last big Halloween party we had in our house.

I was the Korean Olympic badminton team and Rebecca was the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

The walls of the basement were coated in black trash bags with black lights and smoke machines roaring throughout. The back room held a long table with chafing dishes full of piping hot meats and there was still a pool table to attract a crowd. One wall was covered in balloons containing either prizes or embarrassing things to do. (In the lower right, Marc is acting out his death scene as someone stung to death by killer bees).

Tonight, we're taking the kids to "Trunk or Treat" at Maia's elementary school. No wild parties in the mix.

tagged as memories | permalink | 1 comment
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Monday, October 31, 2022

End-of-the-Month Highlights Day

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

  • Events
    • Went to Ava's 5th birthday party at Hyperkidz on S 10/1.

    • Spent the afternoon at the Smith's on S 10/2.

    • Celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary on M 10/3.

    • Family dinner at Sweetwater Tavern on W 10/5.

    • Took Ian to my parent's while Maia and Rebecca went to Disney on Ice! on S 10/8. Everyone went to SterlingFest in the afternoon.

    • Rebecca's parents came over for the afternoon on S 10/15.

    • Had Larry, Janice, and the kids over for lunch on S 10/16. Maia got a corneal abrasion from a book left in her bed.

    • Went to the HOA Annual Meeting on W 10/19 and started a two-year term as a real board member.

    • Rebecca and Maia went to the Community Center Halloween Party on F 10/21.

    • Family outing to Potomac Crossing Park on S 10/22.

    • Rebecca and the kids hiked to Bear's Den with Sara and Karl on S 10/23. Pizza dinner from Fire Works at our house with Sara, Karl, Car, and Jordan.

    • Forest Grove Trunk or Treat on F 10/28.

    • Visited my parents with the kids on S 10/29.

    • Rebecca and the kids went to the Cascades Halloween Farmer's Market with Tammy and Patrick, then everyone came back to the house for an afternoon fire pit and pumpkin carving on S 10/30. Made udon soup for dinner.

    • Went Trick or Treating with the kids (late-game shift to the Berenstain Bears) until in started raining on M 10/31.


  • Projects
    • Continued learning IntelliJ IDEA and migrating my personal projects over from Eclipse.

    • Continued picking up trash around the neighbourhood with Ian.

    • Pressure washed the front porch on S 10/15.

  • Consumerism
    • Playing Overwatch 2 now.

    • No amazing new music, TV shows, or movies this month. The Peripheral seems promising so far.

October's Final Grade: A, a very nice month

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