Posts from 05/2024

Wednesday, May 01, 2024

Ian Year 3 Battle Report

Ian has finally made it to the age of 3!

Primary stats:

  • Height: 36.25" (23%)
  • Weight: 28.4 lb (17%)

For scale, he is as tall as 6.042 standard hot dogs end-to-end, and weighs as much as 284 standard hot dogs.

Not much has changed developmentally since the year 2 month 11 update. He knows his shapes, months, colors, and other trivia, reads the weather report in our Sunday paper, and recites books and songs from memory. He always wants a book at dinnertime but feels like he cannot make the choice himself.

His favourite catchphrase right now is "LET'S PLAY!" -- he doesn't always want to play Duplos by himself, although he also usually doesn't accept our input on how to play when we sit down with him.

He loves Maia and Maia takes good care of him. For his 3rd birthday, they got to have a sleepover in his room -- Ian went to bed first then Maia snuck in with a sleeping bag after he had fallen asleep. In the morning, they sat quietly in the room for awhile as Maia read some stories to him.

He's coming towards the end of his first year at preschool (with two more to go, based on where his birthday falls in the year) and greatly enjoys it. He especially likes that the playground is littered with construction trucks to play with. On the occasions that I pick him up from school midday, he's always playing alone with the trucks, lost in his own little world.

Happy Birthday Ian!

tagged as offspring, day-to-day | permalink | 0 comments
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Friday, May 03, 2024

Review Day: Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (Switch)

There are no major spoilers in this review.

We purchased this game almost a year ago, and haven't played it in at least 4 months, so I think it's safe to say that we'll never finish it.

Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is the sequel to Breath of the Wild which I gave a solid C- to. Looking past the hype, the first game was a tedious grind only made bearable by the fact that Maia loved watching me play it and there was nothing else to do during the pandemic.

This game reuses the same engine and takes place in the same world (although the world is so altered that it felt very different right off the bat). Though it has some newness injected, it does very little to fix the underlying flaws that plagued the first game.

First, the good:

  • The new abilities and the puzzles that require you to glue things together in oddball ways are very clever and give you a lot of leeway for solving things in unexpected ways.
  • The world is three times as large (there are now islands in the sky, the overland itself, and then the Depths underneath), and you spend plenty of time flying through the air as a means of exploration. This mechanism feels much better than it did in Skyward Sword, and is worlds better than the sailing in Wind Waker.

Now, the bad:

  • The controls remain unintuitive and frustrating. The number of times I try to do one thing but end up doing something else (like climbing a wall instead of walking through a door) is extremely high in each play session. This is especially frustrating when enemies require lots of precision to beat.
  • The "open world" concept still provides no reason to really explore off the beaten path. The world is huge but generic.
  • The story is abysmal and repetitive. Because it's an open world game, you can solve the four main dungeons in any order, but they all have identical stories and story beats as a result. The same applies to many of the subquests -- doing something once is interesting, but then having to do it 5 more times is boring.

One day last year, Maia and I felt like we were close to the end and finally decided to beat the game. We had beaten the four main dungeons and traveled to the endgame to defeat the final boss. Only, it turns out there was a fifth leg of the game to deal with and what felt like "95% complete" actually turned out to be "75% complete". This deflated a lot of my urge to finish the game (and I'm a completionist!), and we never picked the game back up seriously after that. With so many other more fun activities to do, the incentive to go the rest of the way just isn't there. Also, Maia has moved on to Pokemon in the interim.

Final Grade: C

tagged as reviews, games | permalink | 0 comments
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Monday, May 06, 2024

Recipe Day: Grilled Salmon with Mango Salsa

Time

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes (mostly chopping the mangos)
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1.5 pounds of salmon

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 lemon's worth of lemon juice
  • 10 chopped mint leaves
  • 5 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • salt to taste

  • 2 diced mangos
  • 1/2 chopped cucumber
  • 20 chopped mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 lemon's worth of lemon juice

Directions

  1. Prep Marinade: Mix oil, lemon juice, mint, garlic, and spices in a bowl.
  2. Prep Salsa: Mix mangos, cucumber, mint, red onion, and lemon juice in a bowl and refrigerate for later. Or, buy some mango salsa at the store so you don't have to learn how to cut around a mango core.
  3. Marinate salmon for 2 hours shallow dish in the fridge.
  4. Preheat grill to HIGH and take everything out of the fridge.
  5. Grill salmon normally, 3 - 5 minutes per side depending on how done you want it.
  6. Serve with spinach or rice.

After taking the picture for this recipe, Ian and Maia insisted on becoming foodgrammers too:

tagged as recipes | permalink | 2 comments
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Wednesday, May 08, 2024

Data Day: Health and Wellness

In the first third of the year, I exercised every day (even when sick). At a minimum, I forced myself to do 20 minutes of Beat Saber VR cardio, jog 1.5 miles, or perform at least 20 minutes of an outdoor continuous activity like picking up trash quickly or mowing the lawn.

As of the end of April, I have spent 50 hours and 10 minutes doing Beat Saber, jogged 30.5 miles, and did 9 hours and 40 minutes of outdoor activity.

I started January out mostly jogging, but quickly ran out of good treadmill shows to watch. In February I switched to mostly Beat Saber, gradually extending the time spent and the speed at which I played the maps. This was great for cardio but not so great for my shoulder sockets. I'm now back to jogging again so my shoulders can have time to recover.

I'm currently holding steady at my pre-pandemic weight, 136 pounds, down 10 pounds from my intra-pandemic high of 146 pounds.

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Friday, May 10, 2024

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Key & Peele, Season Two:
The second season of this show feels a little more experimental so more of the skits fell flat for me. Good for a few laughs at the end of the evening, but not as great as the first season. On Netflix.

Final Grade: B-

Shogun:
This limited series started strong and remained strong, but I personally lost interest towards the last few episodes. The acting and set design were all great, but I no longer felt invested in where the story was going and I can't really explain why. Perhaps it was one of the later episodes that fixated too heavily on a "will he / won't he" type of plotline when it was pretty obvious that there was no doubt about the answer. On Hulu.

Final Grade: B

Fallout, Season One:
This series perfectly captures the weird, absurd, violent tone of the Fallout universe and how it feels to play the video game (you don't need any familiarity with Fallout to enjoy the show though). On top of that, it feels like there's a pretty compelling original story taking shape (although a few spots feel too familiar, like something that might have been on Jonathan Nolan's other show, Westworld). The plot moves quickly and the final episode is full of great reveals, although I really felt like we were just warming up when the final episode rolled around. Walton Goggins is wonderful as always -- his character sometimes comes across as an undead version of Boyd Crowder from Justified but this isn't a bad thing at all. On Prime Video.

Final Grade: A

Modern JavaScript for the Impatient by Cay S. Horstmann:
The bulk of my early technical career was spent abusing JavaScript and working around its historical baggage in the quest for cross-browser compatibility. This book is a great look at how the language functions NOW, with only minor diversions into the historical WHYs. It's a great reference and helped me get up to speed on what's changed in the past 10 years.

Final Grade: B+

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Monday, May 13, 2024

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

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

7:02 AM: Running on the treadmill while finishing up Ripley.
7:35 AM: Showered and ready for the day.
7:46 AM: Bagel for breakfast.
8:44 AM: Working on various website graphics and ads.
11:52 AM: Leftover fried chicken for lunch.
2:35 PM: Ian comes home, happy from his first weekend with the grandparents.
3:43 PM: Matching some tractors.
4:41 PM: The line to get to Dulles Airport.
4:58 PM: Picking up Rebecca and Maia from their trip to Minneapolis.
5:13 PM: Everyone's home again.
5:49 PM: Garlic scallops and angelhair alfredo for dinner.
7:20 PM: Ready for bed.

tagged as 12 of 12 | permalink | 1 comment
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Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Maia's Art Day

Maia started a car dealership in February after Rebecca bought her new Kia Niro. The jeeps are so cheap because "we have too many and no one wants them!"


A silly robot.


This is what adorns Maia's bedroom wall at the moment. Charizard is her favourite Pokemon.


Ice skating.


If I had $100, I would buy some more cat stuffed animals.


An all-inclusive sketch of Maia's elementary school, from the bus circle and flagpole in front to the basketball court and playground in the back.

tagged as offspring, media | permalink | 1 comment
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Friday, May 17, 2024

Review Day: Empire in Black and Gold by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Empire in Black and Gold is Adrian Tchaikovsky's very first published book and kicks off the ambitious, ten-volume Shadows of the Apt series in high form. It took me a while to begin, as I'd heard it blandly described as "insect people fighting each other", but the book is so much deeper and more imaginative than that false encapsulation.

In a world of industrial city-states and provincial rivalries, mankind has taken on traits of different arthropods, like the Ant-kinden who can communicate telepathically with each other or the Spider-kinden who can charm or manipulate and are masters of political intrigue. Stenwold Maker returns from a distant land to warn his people that the Wasp Empire is expanding through invasion and slavery, but struggles to get through to others content with the status quo.

The book reads very easily with just enough world building information planted along the way to deepen the experience without slowing the frenetic pace. It's particularly intriguing when the story takes us to a new locale and we learn about a new "kinden" trait. And unlike Children of Time which was the last series I'd read, the story doesn't exist just to revolve around the cool ideas -- Tchaikovsky introduces very memorable characters with believable motivations here, and having those characters to root for makes the cool ideas less abstract.

It feels like there's a lot of unexplored complexity buried just below the surface, with themes of magic vs. technology and innate prejudices raised but not (yet) deeply explored. I'm looking forward to continuing on with Book 2!

Final Grade: B

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Monday, May 20, 2024

Easy Photos Day

New bathroom color.


Happy and full of popcorn shrimp after Ford's Fish Shack.


Walking in Claude Moore Park.


Amber, 19 years 7 months, just after a mandatory bath.


Maia goes to the American History Museum with the grandparents.


Maia tours the latest in playground technology in Alexandria.


Newest gift from the grandparents, a mixed sand + water table with a valuable theme.


tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 1 comment
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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Amber Day

Amber passed away yesterday at the amazing age of 19 years 7 months.

Anna and I adopted Amber on March 1, 2005 from a crazy cat lady we found on Craigslist. She and her sister, Sydney, joined forces in the house with Booty and Kitty. Months later, Anna moved out with Kitty and Sydney, while Booty and Amber remained behind.

Amber was always Booty's punching bag -- Booty would deign to let Amber sleep next to her, but got very territorial if Amber tried for the affection of Booty's humans. Once Booty died in 2017, Amber became much happier as the lone cat. (Kitty and Sydney died in the intervening years as well, so Amber TRULY was the last one standing).

Amber was not a fan of kids until around 2019 when she became absolutely deaf. Then she would peacefully lie on the couch as children bounced from cushion to cushion or the vacuum cleaner drove by below her. She was always a sucker for a warm blanket and spent almost every afternoon napping on the couch with Rebecca.

The osteoarthritis in her back legs made it difficult to get around on a good day and last week, she finally got to the point where her front legs weren't working all that well either. We suspect that she may have had a mini-stroke of some kind because by the weekend, she wouldn't use her legs and couldn't focus her eyesight on any movement. We gave her a final bath (she couldn't clean the litter off her paws anymore) and kept her comfortable for the remainder of her days, holding the water bowl right up under her face to get her to drink.

Amber died peacefully overnight on one of her favourite wool blankets. Rest in peace, kitty!

tagged as cats | permalink | 1 comment
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