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Sep. 28th, 2016 @ 10:46 pm Many Posts of Backlog
Current Mood: tiredtired
A Death in the Family: Julie's grandfather died two weekends ago, at the age of 99. No matter how much time, it's never enough. It seems this has been a really rough year for Julie's mom. We're going to Lubbock to spend some time with the family this coming weekend.

Some Ingress Travels: Also two weekends ago, we went on a brief New York trip with some Ingress teammates, taking part in a challenge associated with the latest series of game events, challenging players to visit points of interest they haven't visited before. It was a fun trip, and we managed to return home unexploded.

There was an Ingress live event in Toronto last weekend, and while we didn't make it out to that one, we helped out from Boston. There's one defensive mechanic that can be done at a distance in Ingress, and while the mechanic itself is the boringest gameplay ever, it does help those teammates who actually made it to the event win their battles (on the defense, anyways), and it's something that can be done while you hang out with local teammates and spectate.

Extended Family: Uncle Marvin and Aunt Anita were in from the other coast, so I had the chance to introduce them to Erica. Got together with extended family and celebrated my cousin Amy's engagement to her long-time boyfriend Josh. Many congratulations to them!

A Bit of Magic: The prerelease for the latest Magic: The Gathering set, Kaladesh was last weekend, and I played in one of the prerelease tournaments at Pandemonium Books and Games in Cambridge. Fantastic set, with a great setting and very interesting mechanics (a lot of surprises on that front, the mechanic I most confidently expected did in fact appear on one cycle of cards, but that ended up being a small (though really cool) part of the set). The games were very fun, and despite a few blunders I won three of my four matches.

Eris Meets Baby: Another infant has started at Erica's daycare. She seemed to be acting friendly towards the baby when I've seen them together, but I heard reports that the first week or two involved some pangs of jealousy, especially when the new kid was receiving a bottle of milk or was being held by the caretakers. They tell me that Erica has been very vocal By coincidence, the new kid's dad works at the Wyss, so he's one of Julie's colleagues.

Roof Repairs: The building across the way had its 30-year roof repairs last fall (shortly after we moved in). The same for our building was planned for this year, a bit of emergency repair (though not in our unit) was required last winter. The work was completed last weekend. Really glad to have that done before the winter! The work wasn't too much of a bother (and was never too loud inside the building), but there was one day when the workers were running a really loud compressor outside and Erica really didn't like that sound. (The only other noises I've seen bother Erica that much were a cheering crowd and those high-powered hand dryers.)

Eristic Improvements: The kid now has an insatiable drive to explore. On the plus side, that means she can spend hours entertaining herself while I get chores done. On the minus side, that means she's finding new ways to get in trouble. She's really energetic, up until the moment when she's suddenly super-tired and super-cranky. Seems to have some renewed difficulty falling asleep: She wants to stay up and play more, plus teething continues. Starting the toothbrushing routine.
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L33t
Sep. 13th, 2016 @ 08:31 pm Milestones Big and Small
Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful
Tags: , , , , , , ,
Work continues to be busy but tiring. I'm only now getting to clearing some of my backlog both there and at home. Hence the delay in posting.

Two weekends ago (Labor Day weekend) was my sister's wedding! It was a wedding retreat, a whole weekend with immediate family old and new at a vacation home in the mountains in Newry, Maine. The wedding was beautiful, and the whole weekend was very relaxing. Congratulations again to Melissa and Elliott!

The highlight of the weekend for me, actual wedding aside, was taking the kid on her first hike. I bought an awesome backpack carrier, Eris enjoyed surveying her domain, and it was quite a workout! You can really tell the optimists from the pessimists among the people you pass on a steep hike, the former tell you encouragingly that the summit is right around the corner, the latter tell you accurately that it's still quite a ways. (One inversely-directed hiker compared Erica in her backpack to "the Queen of Sheba", to which I responded "and I, her loyal servant".) I definitely need to get in some more use of that backpack. It's fun!

(That and stargazing from the roof deck of the house. It's been a long time since I've had such a good view of the stars.)

I've been trying to get in more of activities I consider worth having done in retrospect and less of stuff that seems like a waste of time. It's not always what I expect.

Things that were good uses of my free time:
  • Going to Michelle's birthday party
  • An extended Sunday brunch that ended up taking all of the morning and a bit of the afternoon
  • Getting back to reading S.
  • Starting to read Fix (the conclusion of a trilogy)
  • Reading books in general, including on the Kindle app on my phone
  • Long strolls with the kid
  • Catching up on Fear the Walking Dead (even though that's not nearly as good as the show it's a spinoff of)
  • Watching Dennou Coil (most briefly described as "Google Glass the anime")
  • LJ discussion threads, even though it takes me entirely to long to edit entirely too wordy comments
  • Cooking, even when it's something simple
Things that were not good uses of my time:
  • A super-aimless Saturday morning, where it took me far too long to get up and do anything
  • Playing a bit of Borderlands (I thought I would enjoy it, but it was just too repetitive and grindy)
  • Excessive Facebook browsing
Erica is developing really quickly and seems to be really having fun with her rapid increase in capabilities. She loves playing with her toys, especially an electronic music-box that's all flashing primary-colored lights and snippets of classical music, anything with moving parts she can manipulate, and anything that makes noise when she hits it against the floor.

Eristic improvements: Dancing (including moving to the beat of music), standing assisted, bouncing up and down from a standing position (every day is leg day!), pulling herself up to sitting, kneeling, or half-standing poses on her own. Getting bored mid-hygiene and trying to get away (come back, baby!). Trying to get into the container of wipes to chew on them (evidently delicious?). Eating more varieties of food (though her reaction to some really new things is very dramatic: super-exaggerated disgust-face followed by demanding more followed by surprised laughter at every bite). Trying to remove books from lower bookshelves (the bungee cords are deterrent enough for now). She still is way into making that growling sound, too!
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Smile
Aug. 29th, 2016 @ 10:16 pm Anomalobster
Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful
Julie and I went to Portland, Maine this past weekend for a mini-vacation to play in one of the latest Ingress anomalies on Saturday. All I could've asked for: Excellent gameplay, hanging out with some of our Ingress-playing friends (especially Ian and Ben, who were kind enough to let us join their carpool), victory for the green team, wandering around in some lovely weather, and delicious things to drink and eat (more lobster roll!). We did get through the 12 (of 24) courses needed to get the badge for participation in Sunday's Ingress Mission Day event (completing 13 in all), but I'm a bit envious of our teammates who had time to do the entire set. Ah well. Plenty did the minimum who didn't have a kid in tow. Erica seemed to enjoy the excitement and crowds and the stroller tour of the city.

Was fun to see people react to the event, especially one particular kid who seemed struck by the realization that he had to start playing this Ingress thing immediately. His mom helped him download the game, and he'd worked his way through the tutorial, asked the anomaly players lots of questions about the gameplay, and was well on his way to level three before our paths diverged. Must've been an interesting experience, given that the live events have the game in its most chaotic state! I wonder if he'll stick with it, but either way, it's always fun to help a new player give the game a try.

Unfortunately, our Portland acquaintances recently decamped for a different Portland, so we didn't get the chance to see them on this trip. We'll have to visit Oregon sometime as well.

This week, my family is in town. On Friday, my sister is getting married! All the congratulations to Melissa and Elliott! The wedding and subsequent weekend with family will be at a vacation home in Newry, Maine, so that should also be a nice getaway.
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Enlightened
Aug. 21st, 2016 @ 12:46 am Falling With Style
Current Mood: tiredtired
I've been very tired lately. Between that and the heat, I've pretty much given up on cooking, and all of my entertainment has tended towards the short-form. Work has been exhausting as well.

Julie's Science paper came out this week, and she was working to get her companion-piece methods paper ready for pre-publication. And post-postdoc job search continues.

Next week, we'll be going to Portland, Maine for another Ingress live event. So have been getting in a little Ingress-playing this week to gather the game-items needed for the battle ahead.

The weekend after that is my sister's wedding, also near Portland.

Today, I thought I might get a quiet day at home, then did nothing of the sort (as usual). Went out for breakfast, then decided to catch a bit of the Red Bull Flugtag (a funny amateur "flying" machine competition), then played some Ingress in/around Boston Public Garden. Did a bit more wandering and relaxing, then got dinner at Happy Lamb Hot Pot (a new place in Central Square which happened to be serving their special menu for this summer's restaurant week). It didn't feel like much time had passed since early afternoon, but by the time we were done with dinner, it was nearly 10PM.

Speaking of which, I'd better get to sleep if I don't want to be dead tomorrow.

Eristic improvements: Crawling for real (though still somewhat limited/slow), new growling noise that she finds incredibly entertaining.
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L33t
Jul. 31st, 2016 @ 11:00 pm Above the Gates
Current Mood: tiredtired
This past week, I was home sick from work Monday, and I've continued to be under the weather since. Maybe I'll feel better tomorrow? Or eventually? The week was fairly eventful. Work, and generally not getting as much done as I'd like.

The handyman finally caught up on his own backlog and start on the babyproofing-related work at our place. So our place now features cabinet latches and stair gates, ahead of the kid really being able to get away from us. Also added brackets for our AC units, so that we can install them and remove them again without dropping them out of the narrow windows.

Julie's readying for another round of interviews.

The weather remains unpleasantly hot and humid.

I played a bit of This is the Police (which will be coming out for public release soon). I see why many reviewers are characterizing it as an interesting failure, but the game's story strikes me as interesting so far, and it's indeed interesting how it uses its mechanics in service of its story and aesthetic.

Eristic improvements: Eating solid food in earnest now, first tooth, floor sitting (though not sitting up), more pre-crawling exercises.

ETA: Also, forgot to mention that the kid had her physical last week. Just over 19 pounds now.
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L33t
Jul. 23rd, 2016 @ 01:37 pm A Feast for Trolls
Current Mood: exhaustedexhausted
Last weekend: Just about perfect. I got in some relaxation, played To the Moon (a charming little indie-RPG, very light on gameplay mechanics), went to the latest Magic: the Gathering prerelease (and went 4-0!), and Julie took me out for a special dinner at Bergamot.

This week: Nothing eventful. Mostly just trying to stay out of the heat. It's been extremely hot, and as a result I've been extremely tired.

This weekend: Olin summer party in Somerville!

In the news:

The RNC happened in Cleveland, and I was glad to hear that went largely without incident. The Republicans are officially the Party of Trump now, it seems. Cruz showed up to emphasize that he wouldn't endorse Trump to his face (2020 guyz!), while many former presidents and current legislators were conspicuously absent. Most notably, Governor Kasich didn't show up to the RNC in his own state (though evidently he put in an appearance at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame down the street).

Was Kasich really offered the VP post and was that offer really worded the way anonymous Kasich adviser claims? I don't even know what to believe at this point.

Trump's actual VP choice was unexpectedly uninteresting, Pence is a sitting governor and seems to be a good public speaker. Clinton followed suit by picking Tim Kaine, not a surprising pick, but a reasonable one.

Most interesting bit of convention reporting: This essay on a convention party hosted by gay anti-feminist and professional troll Milo Yiannopoulos. Most interesting thing about the convention itself: Trump's acceptance speech, mainly in thinking about what a Trump presidency might actually be like. Best moment in general: Jon Stewart's guest appearance on Stephen Colbert's Late Show.

Next week: Wikileaks (and everyone else) will try to shake up the DNC.
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Jon Stewart
Jul. 13th, 2016 @ 11:30 pm Fourth Decade Commences!
Current Mood: awakeawake
Unlike previous years, this year's trip to Sandy Island Camp wasn't a digital hiatus. I didn't leave my phone at home this time. For one thing, I wanted to have the camera, and for another, I was driving and wanted to bring the phone for nav. But unless I'm really committed to taking a complete break from the internet (and I wasn't), I won't do it, so I spent a lot of my time at camp listening to podcasts or huddled in the shadow of the internet shed.1

But it did mean a lot of time to relax, particularly as the kid had two grandparents and an aunt who wanted to make the most of quality time. Early on, it was, "Can I watch the baby? Change a diaper? Take her for a walk?" Sure, if you insist! Later in the week, it was more like the kid would just vanish and I'd look up and think, "Where did the baby go?"

Eris is still determinedly working on improving her mobility. This makes her extra interactive, but also extra tired and hungry. Introducing her to new foods is fun, and she eats not nearly as messily as I would have expected. Aside from rice cereal, we've gotten in some banana (her favorite) and plain yogurt (which she also liked).

I did manage to get in a bit of reading at camp (though I notably did not read any books from start to finish):

Piketty's Capital - I started reading this at Sandy last summer, planned to find some time to finish it during the year, and failed to do so. It's pretty interesting, though, as a historical account of the conditions that caused inherited fortunes to dominate the landscape of wealth in Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries and why those conditions were notably absent for much of the 20th century. It's also interesting as a bit of futurism that predicts a return to low growth, extreme wealth inequality, a shrinking middle class, and the reemerging dominance of inherited fortunes. The last part, concerning policy recommendations, will be of interest to liberals, horrifying to libertarians, and probably politically infeasible in any case. Still, I agree with Bill Gates that the book is worth your time if you're interested in the topic.

Haidt's The Righteous Mind - Started this book some time before camp. This book's subtitle "Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion" promises more than the book delivers, and Haidt has blind-spots you could drive a truck through, and for all that he notes that he's a former liberal, Haidt seems to think that some of the moral intuitions he cites are absent from liberal politics instead of employed in different ways. Still, it's not bad as a pop-science book about moral psychology.

(If the author's name sounds familiar, Haidt has most recently gotten a lot of attention for writing conservative "what's wrong with the kids these days" think-pieces, including this one in The Atlantic.)

Cities and Space: The Future Use of Urban Land - Started but haven't finished yet. A collection of essays that was a product of an academic symposium, published in 1966. Interesting so far. Notably, it leads off with an essay that predicts the main problem of urban land in the future will be its ever-declining value as transportation and communication costs trend towards zero (the author also predicts that automated freeway navigation systems will allow traffic to flow at 150 mph bumper-to-bumper).

The weather at camp was pleasantly cool, and that continued on our return. (Had to get out a jacket, unusual for July.) Julie's dad was in town for a conference, and that Sunday was my 30th birthday, so we had some fun celebratory meals. Not a bad milestone. I did seem to manage to check all the boxes just in time for the end of my 20s.

Since then, summer has once again turned on the heat.

The handyman is scheduled to do some work on the house related to baby-proofing and climate control, but that's been delayed because he's sick. Hopefully the delay won't be too long.

I've been playing Undertale, which really is as good as people have claimed. And I have played a bit of that new Pokémon game that everyone (kind of shockingly close to literally everyone) is talking about.2

Eristic improvements: Substantial increases in mobility. Maintaining pre-crawling pose, reverse-gear backwards scooting, improved rolling. I'd say the kid is almost to crawling. In fact, she just got in her first bit of what might technically be crawling, which involved taking a lot of wind-up bounces before flinging a leg forward. She's also become more talkative. Definitely making the transition from cooing to babbling, some of her vocalizations are now recognizably featuring syllables and consonants. Some improvements in skill at manipulating objects, particularly those spoons.

1. The camp office, sole source of wifi on the island. There is some cell reception but it's terrible, particularly on T-Mobile.
2. I joked that it turns out that all Ingress needed to be wildly popular was to be combined with the most successful video-game franchise of all time. Of course, that's not really a joke, and it shouldn't really be so surprising that's a winning formula. (Though I do wonder if the game will have staying power, or if its popularity will be a brief fad.)
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HHGTG Stub
Jul. 1st, 2016 @ 11:04 pm To Sandy With Baby
Current Mood: awakeawake
Tomorrow, we're heading off to Sandy Island Camp. The first time I was there, I was two years old, so I guess this is really a generational thing now. Which makes me antsy, I'm not the biggest fan of getting caught up in tradition.

Other things that are different this year: I'll be driving up in a rented car with Julie and Erica, since there's not room for the three of us to travel with mom and dad (they're taking Melissa and Elliott). And it won't be my usual break from the digital realm. I'm bringing my phone this year, since that's my best camera.

I packed far more books than I can hope to read in a week of free time, and it's a small fraction of the books in my queue. But some reading will be good. I'm sure I'll be able to get a break from looking after the kid (Melissa in particular seems thrilled to be getting some quality time with her niece).

This week marked the end of second quarter at work, which meant time to look back at my goals for the past three months. I'm pretty pleased with how things are going. Things have been pretty focused and productive, even with a new routine.
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HHGTG Stub
Jun. 26th, 2016 @ 09:25 pm A Few Games at the Start of Summer
Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful
The last few weeks have been some mix of busy and quiet, but we did have the time to get dinner with Hannah and Mark and family (our neighbors), met with Cousin Lilah one weekend afternoon, went to The Buttery's annual birthday party. I arranged for a new house-cleaner and (with help from Julie) continued to make progress on the remaining vestiges of post-move storage cleaning.

Last weekend, I played through Read Only Memories, a cyberpunk point-and-click game. While the puzzles will seem pretty simple to fans of the genre, I thought the story and aesthetic was great (the sound design is brilliant). Really captured the colorful side of cyberpunk. Well worthwhile!

Xave's Chuubo's game continues to be fun.

The Steam summer sale is this weekend, so I now have plenty of indie-game distractions to occupy my copious spare time.

This week, my family will be in town. Week after, we'll be away at Sandy Island Camp!

Eristic improvements: Not quite crawling (very soon), eating with a spoon (rice cereal!), discovering gravity (fetch with parents, every baby's favorite game), paying more attention when we read to her.
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L33t
Jun. 18th, 2016 @ 02:32 pm The Turn of the Election Season
Current Mood: tiredtired
Tags: , , ,
I am tired, busy, etc. I miss winter already.

It seems that the primary election season, more brutal than 2008, is finally (all but) over. (At least, I hope that e.g the weekend of July 18 isn't too interesting.) Sanders supporters, so full of predictions that Sanders would definitely win California but maybe not by enough, proved too full of wishful thinking even at that. Now we are in the extreme bitterness phase, with talk of stolen elections and pointed unimaginativeness about what obstacles their favored candidate might have faced in the general election had he prevailed. There's nothing more painful than a narrow loss. But I hope Sanders supporters will not forget that there are more elected positions than President. If they can still succeed in getting the sort of Congress that would pass the sort of policy they favor, what's Hillary Clinton going to do, veto it?

Meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle, there's lots of (albeit sometimes very reluctant) falling in line behind perspective nominee Donald Trump. There's still some rumbling about replacing Trump at convention. But with the "contested convention" option out of that way, this only leaves "blatant shenanigans". I see how that might be technically possible if Trump's delegate selection was so poor that there's a majority of Cruz delegates once you count Trump delegates that are secret Cruz supporters. If you have a majority of the delegates (most especially a majority of the rules committee), you can do whatever you want. But Trump's had a few uncontested primaries with nothing to focus on but delegate selection, so his collection of delegates can't be that bad at this point, can they? Plus that route would be even more suicidal for the GOP than the other available alternatives.

Not to say that the DNC is in any better shape. This election we'll find out whether it's worse for an American political party to have an outsider populist candidate win their presidential primary or almost win.

The recent massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando seems to have pushed all sorts of politics into overdrive, with Trump really, really doubling down on his anti-Muslim rhetoric. (The immediate aftermath of some terrible crime is really not the best time for making good political decisions, but I see why people who feel they are politically thwarted feel that they need to capitalize on the moment. It should go without saying that people whose politics I agree with are right to put political pragmatism ahead of concerns about propriety or rash action, and people whose politics I disagree with are "politicizing tragedy" out of sheer bloody-minded opportunism.) Obama's cogent response to this of course did not get as much media attention as Trump's trumpery, but he's right to point out that mere repetition of the phrase "radical Islamic terror" 1) doesn't really help fight terrorists 2) plays into the ISIS narrative that this is a war against Islam in general and that they represent Islam in general 3) makes Muslims worry that it's prelude to a government crackdown on Muslims in general, especially when a major party's presidential candidate is overtly in support of just that.
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AMERICA!
Jun. 4th, 2016 @ 11:31 am Eris BCLC
Current Mood: calmcalm
Tags: , , , , ,
Last few weeks both work and home have been good, but very busy. I haven't had the wherewithal to get in more cooking. I need to get to baby-proofing the house quite soon. I caught a brutal but brief cold and am just now almost fully recovered.

One of the reasons things have been so tiring is that the kid is eating a lot. Her usual is ~800 ml at daycare between 8AM, plus morning, afternoon, and evening feedings. So over a liter a day, maybe closer to 1.5L. Obviously this is a lot of work for Julie, but it's enough to keep me busy, too, with the logistics of washing and packing bottles and pumping supplies. The doctor advised Julie to pump before feeding the kid to increase milk production. We joke that Erica is now a Board Certified Lactation Consultant (while Erica's patented massage technique is effective, Julie wishes it was a little gentler).

Last weekend, we went to the Ingress event in Brooklyn on Satuday, and helped our team secure a victory. Then we spent the rest of the long weekend visiting family and friends.

This weekend, we're in Jupiter, Florida, visiting Julie's sister. Her parents are visiting as well. So Erica is getting a lot of quality time with extended family (our niece, Emilia, is super-excited to see her younger cousin).


Posted via m.livejournal.com.

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Enlightened
May. 22nd, 2016 @ 03:25 pm A Bit Ground Down
Current Mood: exhaustedexhausted
I feel pretty wrecked this week. I've gotten into a vicious cycle of being too tired to get things done efficiently / staying up late to get things done. So this last week has been rougher than when I first got back to work. Summer has also arrived to help prod me onto an early schedule with warmer nights and brighter mornings. So my internal clock has me waking up at ten-to-seven whether or not I managed to get to bed at ten (my ideal) or midnight (perhaps closer to this week's usual).

I end up of two minds whenever I have free time: Desperate to get in some unstructured relaxation, but also not wanting to be stuck in the house.

At least work has been very productive. I'm on the verge of getting the initial phase of a significant project completed.

I also got in a little cooking this weekend. The Saturday farmer's market in Union Square has started up again, and I got some fiddleheads and radishes and fancy smoked fish.

We're going to NYC next weekend, attending the Ingress live event in Brooklyn. This weekend is quiet.

Eristic improvements: Kid is making more dramatic tongue gestures, is generally more vocal (especially when hungry or tired, which is another thing that's grinding me down), fights sleep a bit harder. Not quite ready for those crawling preliminaries, but it's clear that she's working at it, with some frustration.
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Overwork
May. 8th, 2016 @ 10:32 am WFD (Working from Disney)
Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful
Tuesday-Thursday last week I was in Orlando for a "fun offsite", a reward to the broader Google Flights team (including the Zurich and Mountain View parts of that team) for a job well done. We stayed at the Disney hotel on the grounds of the Animal Kingdom park. Tuesday evening was dinner and an airboat ride at Wild Florida, the boat ride was fun, we got to observe alligators skulking in the reeds and hold one of the park's little alligators for a souvenir photo. On Wednesday, I went on a tour of Kennedy Space Center (pretty interesting, the space shuttle was really an impressive thing to see in person) and caught the evening fireworks show at Epcot. On Thursday, I went to Universal Orlando and rode a couple of their famous motion-simulator rides before heading for the airport for the journey home. I spent most of the time in the main park, but did duck out to the Harry Potter mini-theme-park in Islands of Adventure (Universal is keen to point out that they have tradmarked basically every word in the description of that attraction). It was charming, and the central motion-simulator ride alternated between "in front of a panoramic screen" and "moving through a tunnel stage set" segments in a way that was pretty neat, though a lot of backstage elements were clearly visible on the stage segments (intentionally to tone down those segments for the kids?).

It was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed the extra time to socialize with my colleagues, especially some of the colleagues I see less frequently. I never did make it to Disney World proper ("the MK", as everyone in the immediate vicinity seems to refer to it). I'll have to be back some time (and with family) to visit the house of mouse.

(I did still manage to get a little work done this week. Things are moving along.)

Last weekend, Julie's mom came up to visit us and the kid and provide Julie with some extra hands while I was out of town. Was good to see her, and always fun to have grandparents get some time with the kid.

This weekend, my mom is visiting. Since it's Mother's Day, I'm taking my mom and Julie to the Mother's Day brunch at Bergamot.

Eristic improvements: Rolling over, trying (but failing) to get legs under her. I assume as soon as she can get onto arms and knees, she'll be off like a rocket, though.
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Caffeine
May. 1st, 2016 @ 06:28 pm L33t Links: Unbacklog Edition
Current Mood: tiredtired
Needless to say, I should post about interesting things I find more frequently instead of fishing through my backlog for an entire year.

Technology and Mathematics

The new way of passing the Turing test is to have humans pretend to be AI.

Who Was Ramanujan - Stephen Wolfram (of Mathematica and Wolfram Alpha fame) tells the story of one of an unlikely mathematician (and the subject of a recent biopic). Really interesting stuff.

Urbanism and Transit

How Japanese zoning laws avoid many of the problems of US zoning.

Navigating NYC with a guidebook from 1899.

How to save the MBTA $100M a year: Fix paratransit, subcontract bus maintenance, cut administration.

On state-level funding of urban mass-transit, and why this is about rural-urban political conflict.

An old post with an interesting idea for modifying urban development proposal contests.

"Nations aren't the proper unit of macroeconomic analysis; cities are."

The king of the frequent fliers.

Food and Medicine

Why almost all eggnog sold in the US violates FDA regulations, and why that's not technically illegal.

Why the cure for scurvy was widely known in Europe in the 1700s, but not known by polar explorers in the early 1900s.

An amusing post on pharma company sneakiness, with a great post title.

More Recent Politics

Why Sanders Trails Clinton Among Minority Voters: It has a lot to do with Obama.

Why didn't Bernie Sanders raise any money for the DNC? Short version: Clinton is there to do it for him.

What Would a Trump Victory Tell Us About the Republican Party? The article proposes several possibilities about what pundits and politicians may have gotten wrong in underestimating the chances of a Trump victory. Very interesting to look back at this January post a few months later.

The Smug Style in American Liberalism: Accurately characterized on Reddit as Vox Voxsplains Itself.
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Slacker Revolt
Apr. 24th, 2016 @ 04:34 pm Four Cups of Milk
Current Mood: tiredtired
I'm back in Cleveland for the start of Passover with Julie and Eris to visit my parents and siblings. It's been a while since I last celebrated Passover with my immediate family, not since I left for college in 2004. Introducing the kid to a lot of new people. She seems to be having a good time.

It's been a terribly tiring week, especially since the baby's sleep cycle seems to have been a bit disrupted by the unfamiliar environment and all the excitement.

Last weekend, Julie and I managed to see April and the Extraordinary World with some friends. It's a French animated feature by the same studio that did the adaptation of Persepolis, with a fascinating steampunk-played-straight setting and a more typical mad-science-and-zany-action steampunk plot. (Though it would be kind of interesting to see a story that played that setting all the way serious.) Overall, I recommend it, was a lot of fun.

Developmental milestones for the kid: Trying to roll over (but not quite succeeding), lifting self onto forearms. She's working on those mobility upgrades.
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Ph34r
Apr. 13th, 2016 @ 10:59 pm Hello, Internet!
Current Mood: productiveproductive
So I haven't really posted about my life since last week. The weekend was at least a little relaxing: My cousin Lilah visited us, had a nice Saturday brunch, ArtsUnion had a kids dance party in Union Square, I've been playing Life is Strange.

This week work is very busy, but I'm making some progress on stuff that I was a bit stuck on before I left for leave. So that's good.

I found out that CGP Grey (whose very interesting YouTube channel I've been watching for some time) has two podcasts, Hello Internet, a general discussion podcast in collaboration with the creator of Numberphile, and Cortex, a podcast on productivity and creative work in collaboration with prolific podcaster Myke Hurley. Enjoying both a lot, enough that I'm working my way through the archives.

Today I took a vacation day, but it was less leisure and more working on household tasks. Though I did take a nice stroll on the way to daycare pickup and enjoyed the beautiful weather.

New developments for the kid this week: Laughter (still infrequent, I think Lilah was the first to elicit that reaction), mimicry (maybe? probably a little, though not totally sure, but she does sometimes seem to imitate e.g. sticking out tongue), sucking on thumb (a bit more awareness of fingers generally).

(Also, I've been at Google for five years as of today. Can't believe it's been that long already!)
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Conga!
Apr. 9th, 2016 @ 09:48 pm Beyond the Matrix
Current Mood: quixoticquixotic
Tags:
This short story by kihou, based partially on the Nobilis spin-off tabletop RPG Beyond the Wall got me really wanting to play a similar spin-off of that game, even though the game itself doesn't fully exist yet.

I wanted to try to flesh out a bit how that would work. Note that the text below copies much of the text of the posts about Beyond the Wall wholesale, with minor modifications, in order to show that it's just that system, applied to a somewhat different setting. All I'm adding are minor tweaks to fit the setting, a bit of flavor, and some examples. All credit to Elaine "OJ" Wang who created Beyond the Wall, Jenna Moran, who created Nobilis, and the Wachowskis and everyone else who created The Matrix. (Basically, I think this is fair use, but hopefully everyone whose creative work I'm creating this derivative work based on will either think that this is awesome or at least not worth objecting to.) Somewhat obviously, I'm both twisting the system a bit to fit this setting and twisting the setting a bit to enhance the congruence. This probably only works for those a bit familiar with The Matrix (probably a lot of you) and Nobilis (probably far fewer), but I think it ends up being pretty amusing/compelling.

(For those not familiar with Nobilis, the necessary context is this: Nobillis has antagonists called the Excrucians, who believe reality is a lie and seek to destroy it. Beyond the Wall has those characters as protagonists instead. For those not familiar with The Matrix, the necessary context is that the protagonists are similarly trying to destroy what most of humanity would consider to be reality.)


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Error
Apr. 6th, 2016 @ 02:33 pm New Routine
Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful
Tags: , , ,
Back to work, back to the real world and the new routine of work/life balance! So far so good. Have been trying to get to bed at 10 (actual performance: 12:20, 10, 11...) and waking up at 7AM. Daycare drop off by 8AM, pick-up at 5PM. Back to working out three times a week as well, and Julie and I have both done some home cooking.

Eris seems to be enjoying daycare. Fortunately, she's not shy, and it's a bit too early developmentally for her to be experiencing separation anxiety. As long as she gets care and attention (and milk!), she's a happy customer.

The kid has discovered some new vocalizations (mainly a gross-but-cute gurgly coo) and her hands (less "sucking on thumb", more "trying to gnaw on entire fist").

After returning to work, I was close to the limit on earned vacation time, so I'm taking a few extra days off early on. Today is a little mid-week mini-staycation. Going to catch up on some chores and take a nap.
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Exercise
Apr. 1st, 2016 @ 06:14 pm Political Commentary That Is Not About Trump
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
There are a few stories I've really wanted to comment on that I haven't gotten around to, so time for a post while I still have a moment to write.

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Jon Stewart
Mar. 31st, 2016 @ 01:21 pm Delayed Luggage
Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful
Back home, and back in the pattern of "too busy to write during the day, too tired to write in the evening".

Our trip back home went well, except the carseat (which also serves as the top half of our stroller) failed to make the connection and arrived on a later flight. It all got sorted out, though. They delivered the seat to our house the next day, and gave us a loaner carseat for the interim (which made the trip home from the airport much easier). BA's agent in Boston was much nicer than their agent in Manchester, and pointed me to the correct place for filing a claim for the earlier damage as well. Unfortunately, the site for that says "within seven days", so I'll see if anything comes of it. In the meantime, I've ordered a replacement canopy, which will hopefully be here in not too long, and a lightweight sun-shade, which I'll try to use for future travel.

I had one moment in the hotel, holding Eris, where I just suddenly really felt the love. And it was sort of a surreal experience, similar to how the birth was a surreal experience, feeling that at that particular moment. It was like the stork had knocked at the hotel-room window with a follow-up delivery or something like that.

The Sunday after we returned was spent with cousins from both sides of the family (by coincidence, all of our New York cousins were in town).

This week, Julie is back to work, and I'm enjoying a week as a stay-at-home parent. Next week, I also return to work, and Eris starts daycare. I think she'll enjoy it.

The developmental milestones continue, the latest being that Eris has realized that objects can be interacted with (as in grabbed and moved), though she's not completely sure about how yet. So been getting in a lot of time playing with colorful spinny toys and grabbable rattles.

Eris has also been sleeping more at night and staying up more during the day. She seems to fight sleep a bit every time naptime rolls around now. So much to do, so little time!
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L33t