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Feb. 8th, 2017 @ 05:15 pm Spring Career Fair and Surrounding Events
Current Mood: busybusy
It would be easier to title these posts if it didn't take me several days to get around to it.

Melissa came to visit this weekend (arrived Saturday and left early Tuesday morning). She was visiting Boston University since she's planning to apply for their MFA program. Was a lovely visit, especially since she provided a great deal of help with the kid (seriously, she changed diapers and everything). Saturday evening we went out for dinner with extended family (Amy and Josh and Milly and Marty), Sunday evening we went out to celebrate Melissa's birthday, and Monday I cooked dinner at home. Actually got a fair amount of cooking done: Mushroom and pea shoot omelette on Saturday morning, roast chicken and vegetables, pea shoot salad, and baked sweet potato with dukkah (which Julie made earlier) for Monday night.

Sunday morning, Melissa took the kid and went to visit friends, and (in addition to chores) I managed to watch all of Madoka Magica. If you enjoy anime, I'd recommend it: It's short (12 ~20 min. episodes) and has the sort of quality you'd expect form an Akiyuki Shinbo / Gen Urobuchi collab (i.e. a lot).

(I hear the kid enjoyed her museum visit. A good staircase is still a world of adventure.)

The Super Bowl Sunday seems like it was quite the game. (Sorry, Atalanta fans.)

Work is going all right this week, but it's a bit hectic.

Today, I'm out at Olin helping with campus recruiting and doing an interview-prep workshop. It feels only a short time since I was here with the kid a year ago.

This morning, the ground was covered with a thin layer of ice, which made the walk to daycare a bit too exciting. It was all melted an hour later, though. But tomorrow we're getting a snowstorm.

Julie's postdoc ends on Friday. But her entrepreneurial work continues.

This weekend, we're going to Intercon, which I missed last year and is still probably foolishness to go to this year, what with looking after the kid. I'm only signed up for a few games, though.

Eristic improvements: Still working on standing up unsupported (despite some early successes, she seems to be having difficulty with this still, though maybe she's trying when more tired), using specific sounds to communicate specific things (though I'm not sure I can quite say that she's learned words yet), more complex causal modeling (i.e. she knows the remote control works somehow and is determined to figure it out).
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Jan. 27th, 2017 @ 10:19 pm Seriously It's Only Been a Week
Current Mood: exhaustedexhausted
Tags: ,
So it's been a week since inauguration, which seems to be how I'm counting the time these days, watching Gish Gallop: The President do his thing. The only silver lining to the scenario is that Trump's ego does seem to be a genuine Achilles heel. I mean, having his press secretary go out and tell easily-verifiable lies about the inauguration crowd size, instead of just shrugging it off (he didn't run on being popular in DC, he's not the first black President, and "the forgotten American" might not easily be able to buy a plane ticket and take off work on a Friday). Or claiming that there were 3-5M illegitimate votes in an election where fewer than 130M votes were cast, which he won based on margins of under 100k votes total, just a weird thing to do regarding a victory you feel secure about. (Also, hilariously, suggesting that part of this voter fraud was people registered to vote in two states, only to find that describes half of his administration and family.) To say nothing of Trump's nutty ABC interview.

Since the inauguration, Trump's been trying to crack down on federal agencies publishing the samizdat (he wants their social media presence to only publish stuff that's politically correct). The state department has been purged, the border patrol chief has resigned, the trend of Republicans cutting costs by first firing anyone who knows anything (which seems maybe not the most effective way to achieve cost-cutting goals in the long run) seemingly has been turned up to 11. Trump does seem to be running the government like a badly-managed business.

A (supposed) preliminary list of Trump administration infrastructure projects was released, which actually seemed pretty good from both a prioritization and PR standpoint. It's mostly straightforward stuff, much of it is already underway (opportunity to do a bit of facilitation and take all the credit), and much of it has a mix of government and private funding. But it's not sure how it jibes with other proclamations of the administration, like the attempt to cut all federal funding of sanctuary cites (e.g. the list includes Boston's Green Line Extension, which extends a light-rail line serving a sanctuary city from another sanctuary city through a third sanctuary city to another city that doesn't call itself a "sanctuary city" but by policy might as well be). The Trump White House subsequently disavowed the document saying that it's "not a White House policy document". My conjecture: It's just an internal report and who knows how it will relate to actual policy proposals. The infrastructure-project focus for now remains on a border wall that will cost a kajillion dollars while providing very little in the way of increased border security for the money (it's a boondoggle, but at least it's something in terms of job creation).

Speaking of that wall, Trump did manage to set off at least one diplomatic crisis during his first week in office. I'd expect that this will cause Trump to double-down on his goal of getting Mexico to pay (though he may have to take a flexible definition of what counts as paying to do it, and he may frame "they'll pay" less in terms of finance and more in terms of revenge). In any case, that might run at cross-purposes with the goal of creating manufacturing jobs, since Mexico is America's second-largest market for exports.

Finally, the administration announced plans to publish a weekly list of crimes committed by immigrants and blanket restriction on immigration from the countries in the Middle East Trump isn't personally doing business with. Plus there are rumblings of work on that Muslim registry.

(Even putting politics aside, it's been a tiring week. Ended with me getting super-sick with a bad cold or flu. Julie and the kid are also sick, and so are many of my friends and colleagues.)
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Jan. 17th, 2017 @ 11:17 pm Monsters and Mayhem
Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful
The MIT Mystery Hunt was this past weekend. Unusually, the Hunt was won a little past four on Saturday morning (usually it goes into the wee hours of Sunday). More unusually, it was my team (Death & Mayhem) that won it! (Which means we won the indubitable honor and dubious prize of writing the Hunt for next year. Exciting!)

Despite the misestimated length, this year's Dungeons-and-Dragons-themed Hunt was really excellent—fun, entertaining, and full of lots of really well-constructed puzzles.

Puzzles and solutions are up, so here are some of my favorites (link goes to puzzle, spoilers are behind the "solution" link there):
The Sacred and the Mundane (we backsolved this one from a meta-puzzle, then went back and solved it the right way for fun)
Pic of the Litter (note that the text not in italics is instructions)
Epic Raft Battles of History (great title)
Hexed Adventure (great puzzle form)
How I Spent My Pre/Postapocalyptic Vacation (I really enjoyed working this one out)
Above Your Pay Grade (I helped mostly with the extraction)
Boston Burgers (I helped solve this by pushing for a more straightforward approach to extracting an answer)
Listicle (Julie was the one on our team who figured out the form of this puzzle)

On Saturday we had a lazy day, wandering around town, and then going to a celebratory dinner with the Hunt team. Sunday, we went to dim sum with Ingress-playing friends, then took the kid to the aquarium (Julie's brother and sister-in-law got us an aquarium membership as a Christmas gift). Monday, we went to wrapup for Hunt, then Julie went to lab while I took the long route home with Eris.

The kid has been much more interested in upright mobility lately, traversing the room while holding onto a hand. She's not taking unsupported steps yet, but it won't be long. She seems to be working on some teeth again, judging from the degree of chewing on everything and how uncomfortable she's been getting in the evenings.

Eristic improvements: Walking (unsteadily) with dynamic support, walking (reasonably well) with static support, standing unsupported (including standing up with no support at hand; moderate duration, with effort to balance).
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Dec. 31st, 2016 @ 11:48 pm Reflections at the Turn of the Year
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
We went to the New Year's party at The Buttery which resumed again this year. It was good to see old friends, and Eris had a great time exploring (it's a big house, with some nice big staircases). But per parental tradition, we're home early. I may yet be up to see midnight, though it would probably be wise to turn in even earlier.

I don't want to overstate the significance of 2016, but it certainly was a year that turned things upside-down in a lot of ways. Not all bad, of course. The year started with Erica's birth, and I was pleased to see many friends highlight new family members and deepened relationships in their New Year's reflections.

For those alarmed by the political side of 2016, it's worth noting that while uncertainty has been heightened in some ways, the long-term global trends of reduced disease, poverty, and violence have not been overturned (as Pinker points out, terrorism is the clickbait of violence). Still, I expect that 2017 will be even more dramatic than 2016, and that's saying a lot.

I wish you all the best of health and happiness in the new year.

Eristic improvements (just to get in one last milestone before the turn of the year): Standing unsupported (briefly)
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Dec. 30th, 2016 @ 12:53 pm Infectiousmas
Current Mood: okayokay
We went to visit Julie's family for vacation, and it was pretty relaxing. Very nice to see everyone. Except we will still recovering from this stomach bug and, despite our best effort, managed to get both of Julie's parents and her sister sick as well. Hopefully our niece will avoid getting sick.

My cousin Amy also got sick after watching Erica for only a few hours.

The weather was clear and mild this trip, so it looks like it will be a smooth trip home.

Eristic improvements: Ascending and descending stairs, falling asleep on her own in the crib (though so far only during the day and only when the stars align just so).
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Dec. 22nd, 2016 @ 06:47 pm Definitely Not Sick Everyone
Current Mood: sicksick
It hasn't been the most productive last week of work for the year.

Monday I was out at Olin Expo on behalf of campus recruiting, which was great. Tuesday was okay. But Wednesday, I stayed home to look after a sick Erica who had a bit of a chest cold (and maybe also a stomach bug?). Today, I had a terrible stomach bug. And now Julie is sick as well.

On the plus side, Erica seems to be feeling better, though still a little tired. Amy and Josh are very helpfully looking after Erica for a few hours so that Julie can get a bit more rest (and hopefully get through the worst of the stomach symptoms). I'm lying down a bit more as well.
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Dec. 12th, 2016 @ 12:28 am Pho, Phone Thieves, and Late-Night Laundry
Current Mood: awakeawake
Tags: , , ,
This past week at work was extremely busy, but I got a lot done.

The (smaller) cafeteria in my office building is closed for construction due to the new building going up next door. A new mini-cafeteria specializing in pho was opened on the twelfth floor of the central building in the Google campus. So I had pho for lunch four out of five days last week. It's the right weather for it. And the view from there is beautiful.

On Saturday, we went to the mall so I could look for a new coat. And then Julie had her phone stolen by a pickpocket when she set it down in the base of the stroller. That ended up being less of a disaster than it could have been, since the phone was due for an upgrade soon anyways, but it still made a complete mess of the day.

Today, Julie had a phone interview and I was an exhausted wreck. Eris and I both wound up taking a long nap in the afternoon. Dinner was delicious Chinese food from Zoe's. And then I wasted far too much time before staying up stupidly late doing chores.

But I still wanted to write before I sleep.
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Nov. 27th, 2016 @ 09:38 pm Cross-Country Thanksgiving
Current Mood: exhaustedexhausted
I'm really tired, so I'll keep this one brief. I want to do more substantial writing, but I feel like events keep getting ahead of me.

This year's Thanksgiving vacation took us farther afield than my usual. We went to Santa Fe to meet up with Julie's parents and siblings, took the train to Albuquerque to visit my Great Aunt Alice, went to Cleveland to spend Thanksgiving day with my parents and siblings and some of our Cleveland family, and returned to Boston for a quiet weekend with friends before our return to work.

Managed to get in a brief excursion to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them while Melissa watched the kid. That was fun. If you liked the Harry Potter films, that movie is more of the same in a good way, and I really enjoyed it.

It is getting chilly, but still not quite cold enough for Eris to want to wear her hat.

Eristic improvements: Sidestepping around furniture, mimicking actions with objects, recognizing words (???), increased specificity in sounds and gestures used for communication.
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Nov. 9th, 2016 @ 10:46 pm MAGA
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
Current Music: Blümchen - Heut Ist Mein Tag
Congratulations to President-Elect Donald J Trump.

(2016 is quite a year, it seems.)

Trump didn't quite win a popular-vote plurality, but his strategy for winning a solid electoral college majority succeeded straightforwardly (flipping Wisconsin and Ohio and Pennsylvania and maybe Michigan, with much stronger support from the white rural and small-town working class than Romney) and Clinton's failed straightforwardly (the previous plus failing to hold Florida, failing to flip Georgia or North Carolina or probably Arizona, with weaker support among blacks and Hispanics than Obama).

Trump was conciliatory in his brief victory speech, with a focus on infrastructure spending and education, issues where there's certainly some common ground. I'm skeptical of claims that President Trump will be presidential in ways that candidate Trump was not, but to the extent that I took his failure to "pivot" in the general election as evidence against, I have to take his victory speech as evidence for. (Really weak evidence, it's easy to be magnanimous in victory. But still.)

Nate Silver had it right (well, the polls had it wrong, but he had a pretty clear idea about the particular way in which it could be wrong and he was right to not be over-confident). Michael Moore had it right (moreso, I think, than Scott Adams, who focuses on Trump's persuasion ability, though he's not entirely wrong about that). Sam Wang of the Princeton Election Consortium is stuck eating his words among other things.

The Party of Trump has had their victory and now will, having earned the privilege, (presumably) once again actually have to try to govern. I can only hope that good things come of it. Perhaps they'll even give some of Obama's ideas a go now that making him a one-two-term president is no longer their number-one priority.
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Nov. 5th, 2016 @ 12:28 am 2016 Ballot Thoughts
Current Mood: awakeawake
Election day is only days away.

President: I thought Hillary Clinton was a good candidate for President in 2008 (though I slightly favored Obama), and I think she's an even better candidate in 2016. She's certainly the best candidate on the ballot, and that holds even if I don't restrict it to candidates with a chance of winning. And I really hope she wins this one. I've heard some people suggest that Trump as President would be different from Trump as candidate, but people also said he'd be different in the general election and, well, not so much. I really don't want Erica's first experience of American politics to involve news about the conditions in the camps for mass deportations, or the new Guantanamos. I don't want to have to explain to Erica why the sorts of things that Trump said in the course of this campaign are not normal things for the President to be saying. To say nothing of the things that might go wrong with the US military in the hands of someone who may well think things like "not using nuclear weapons" are just so much political correctness.

Representative (MA-7): Michael Capuano is running unopposed, and I'm a big fan. Notably, he does a really good job of communicating with his constituents, with a weekly newsletter that (among other things) details each of his major votes, including his position and reasoning.

MA Senate (Second Middlesex): Patricia Jehlen, running unopposed.

MA Representative (27th Middlesex): Probably voting for Denise Provost, the incumbent. Though I do like Aaron James' focus on electoral reform.

Middlesex County Sheriff: Peter Koutoujian, running unopposed.

MA Question 1: Would allow a slots parlor to be built in a very specific location. The ballot measure has been promoted by a developer who owns that specific location. Voting no, out of a weak opposition to more gambling and a strong opposition to ballot measures intended to enrich any one particular person.

MA Question 2: Would expand caps on charter schools and move some control from local governments to the state. I'm opposed, I agree with the reasoning of Boston's mayor as to why this is a bad move even for those that, like Walsh, favor charter school expansion.

MA Question 3: Would prohibit confining some animals in cages that prevent the animal from lying down, standing up, fully extending its limbs, or turning around freely in Massachusetts, and would prohibit meat and eggs from animals kept in such conditions from being sold in the state. I'm most conflicted about this one, but I think I'm ultimately opposed. It's definitely a measure where the downsides are highest for the least fortunate. And it's not exactly clear how the state could enforce restrictions on how animals are raised outside of the state.

MA Question 4: Would legalize and tax marijuana. I'm in favor, mainly because the current state of drug policy is so far from reasonable from a harm-minimization standpoint that anything in the direction of repeal seems favorable. Yes, there are a lot of details in this ballot measure. But Massachusetts doesn't afford any particular status to ballot measures relative to other legislation, so the legislature can still amend it if necessary.

Somerville Question 5: Would allow the city to raise property taxes to pay for the construction of a new high school. Overall, rebuilding instead of renovating does seem like a good idea given the age of the building involved and the cost projections for each option. If this measure failed, the city would probably rebuild the high school anyways (the school losing its accreditation would be a disaster, and evidently that's a risk if the building is not renovated or replaced), but that would come at the expense of other priorities. I'm in favor of this one because I think it's likely better for the city overall.
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Oct. 22nd, 2016 @ 07:24 am Odd Awakenings
Current Mood: awakeawake
Tags: , ,
Thursday night, I woke up at 5AM with that lost-dream sensation, that sensation where you're trying to remember something that's just slipped from short-term memory, but have no idea what. I got the sense that something important was churning through my mind.

I went back to sleep, and woke again at 7AM, bolt upright, moments before I became aware of my ringing alarm. That was also a strange sensation, since my conscious awareness of my reaction to the alarm ringing definitely preceded my conscious awareness of the ringing alarm, and my awareness that the alarm rang before I woke up followed that (as a matter of conscious perception/recall, not just logical inference). It was like I could observe my mind hastily revising its account of events. Kind of cool.

This night (that is, Friday night / Saturday morning), I did not sleep well at all. Slept from midnight to 6AM poorly, then was in that state of "still tired but very awake".

Other things: Eris' newly-acquired standing ability is a bit nerve-wracking, since it really increases the number of moderate hazards present, just in terms of opportunities for unplanned vertical transitions. Seems like it would be easy for her to misjudge her endurance or her footing and make sudden acquaintance with the floor. She hasn't taken too many bumps so far, though.

Eristic improvements: Reverse peek-a-boo, first tentative attempt to move forward with the baby walker (something like this).
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Oct. 18th, 2016 @ 09:41 pm Rough Few Weeks
Current Mood: exhaustedexhausted
Work has been busy, everything has been busy. I've been bogged down with chores. I've not been sleeping so well, though not for any particular reason.

I'm making a serious effort to adjust my diet this week. I've been less inclined to eat healthily this year, and the effect is starting to get a bit alarming.

And some of my the most fun bits of the last few weeks have been related to food. Last Friday night, went out for an amazing evening of dessert and drinks at Loyal Nine after a quiet dinner at home. Saturday night, I took Julie out for a steak dinner at Juliet, and it lived up to the best steakhouse dinners I've had. (Julie liked it too, and she has high standards for steak.) All the more reason to keep my day-to-day eating on the healthy side, I suppose. Plus that gives me more motivation to cook again.

Politics is weighing on me. Sunday I went to canvas in New Hampshire for the Clinton campaign. ~40 volunteers left that day for NH canvassing from Porter Square Books, and more than that many from the campaign office in Central Square. And that's just Cambridge. The Clinton campaign is tremendously organized.

I made it out to Olin Monday evening with a few of my colleagues to give a tech talk on interviewing at Google.

The kid is more reluctant than ever to go to sleep in the evenings. And keeping her toys out of the way has become yet another chore.

Eristic improvements: Standing (supported but unassisted). Pulling herself to a standing position (an ability that she's working really hard on improving). Walking is sooner than you think.
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Oct. 9th, 2016 @ 07:53 pm Can Already Feel Winter Approaching
Current Mood: awakeawake
Last weekend, we went to Lubbock to visit Julie's folks. Erica got to spend some quality time with her grandparents and get in another visit with her great-grandma. We also took her to see the animals at the South Plains Fair. Scott (Julie's dad) made homemade paella, which was really good! Was nice to get in some good times with family.

This week work was quite busy. Wednesday I went out to the Olin campus for the fall career fair. I love helping with campus recruiting, it's always great to get back to Olin and see the current crop of students, they always really seem to have it together. It's strange to be so far removed from undergrad, still feels like not that long ago. (Enjoyed the lunch, too. The Olin dining hall is now run by Rebecca's Cafe instead of Sodexo, and that seems to be a big improvement.)

Speaking of Olin, I've also been reading a book by one of my Olin profs, A Whole New Engineer, about Olin and Olin's collaboration with the iFoundry at the University of Illinois. Pretty interesting so far. While I already knew a lot of the background about Olin, I didn't know much about the iFoundry program, which seems to be an attempt to replicate some of Olin's successes with a small, low-budget program at a much larger university.

This weekend was mostly pretty quiet. I managed to play a bit of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided on Saturday (worth the time, though I stayed up a bit later than ideal). Sunday, went to Octoberfest in Harvard Square, which was for some reason not postponed to the rain date despite pouring rain. The weather was pretty lousy, but I don't regret trying to make the most of it since it got me out of the house. Erica napped in her stroller and I enjoyed a little bit of the music (though from a bit of a distance; Erica's ability to sleep through brass bands, while impressive, is not unlimited).

I took down the AC yesterday, just in time. So much easier when I get to it while the weather is still dry.

Of course, I've also been following the presidential election with great interest. Looking forward to the second debate tonight (will probably brave the weather to watch that in company instead of streaming it at home). Though I'm also looking forward to this whole thing being over. (How much crazier can it get in less than a month?)

Erisitic improvements: Erica is eating a bit more adult food (she really liked having some of Julie's scrambled eggs this morning), she's more interested in playing with blocks (though not yet up to nesting or stacking, mostly just hitting together or knocking down), she seems to be understanding some words (maybe???), she's more visibly interested in hearing people read aloud (though she doesn't yet follow along or turn the pages or pay attention to specifics).
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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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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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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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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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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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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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