l33tminion: (AMERICA!)
I was going to get to a political post at some point prognosticating about the fate of the ACA, but then time passed and prognostication became just gnostication. But maybe not so much!

It didn't surprised me when the Republican proposal went with the "free lunch" version of the repeal (the prohibition on "preexisting condition" bans is popular, the mandate is unpopular, so just get rid of the latter, what can possibly go wrong?). The ACA was the Republican plan for restraining healthcare costs, it shouldn't be surprising that the new proposal was basically the same three pillars of require insurers to offer insurance, encourage people to buy insurance, and subsidize. (Though, for one thing, the alternative version of the "encouragement" pillar seemed obviously too weak. If you want to encourage healthy people to buy insurance, a policy that encourages people to buy insurance for the first two months after they've left coverage and then discourages them is not ideal.)

The bit that did surprise me was the complete failure of the bill. I'd assumed after all the hype that the vote would be whipped somehow.

There's a split in the Republican opposition to "Obamacare", between a faction that primarily wants to just repeal the "Obama" part and a faction that (though it has no fondness for Obama) primarily wants to repeal the "care" part. Siderea has a post with an excellent analysis of this, breaking down the Republicans among the "Repealists" (who would still be happy voting for a flat repeal of the ACA, followed by further cuts to Medicare and Medicaid), the "Replacists" (who accept that affordable healthcare should be made available somehow but think the Republicans can do that cheaper and better; Trump himself is in this camp, so unsurprisingly many Trump supporters are as well), and the "Parochialists" (who are primarily focused on the fact that their constituents won't vote for them again after their insurance becomes expensive or unavailable). The latter two factions were in fact willing to join in on voting in favor of a straight repeal, but only so long as that would be safely vetoed.

The bill did have some things that all of those factions could like: Big deficit-funded tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the rich (deficits don't matter, right?), cuts in consumer protections that would allow insurance companies to sell junk insurance (which could make it seem like a decrease in costs). But it was not enough.

So what next? Trump wants to wait in hopes of a better negotiating position. Ryan also seems eager to get on to other things. It's not clear whether either a flat repeal or any innovative (in the sense of not just being some version of Romney/Obama/*care) conservative healthcare policy reforms will make it to a vote in the near future.
l33tminion: (Junpei)
Finally, finally got back to some cookbook cooking last week.

One of the things motivating me to cook is that I've resumed ordering deliveries of local vegetables from Boston Organics. Local means seasonal, and seasonal right now still means a lot of root vegetables (plus some sprouts and some late-season apples). So that made Diane Morgan's Roots a very relevant book indeed. (And it's a beautiful cookbook!)

Carrot Ribbons with Sorrel Arugula Pesto and Goat Cheese

Carrot Ribbons with Arugula Pesto and Goat Cheese

The recipe calls for sorrel in the pesto, but I couldn't get any, so I substituted arugula instead and added a bit more lemon and a lot more pine nuts. Also ended up using way less than the amount of goat cheese the recipe called for, though maybe I was under on the amount of carrots. At any rate, it turned out amazing. The leftover pesto made for some good pasta with some scallions from the store and these beautiful assorted mushrooms from the box:

Prepping Mushrooms

Pasta with Mushrooms, Scallions, and Pesto

Orange Braised Parsnips

Orange-Braised Parsnips

For this one, I followed the recipe directly. It does indeed seem odd to start a recipe for parsnips by caramelizing some sugar, but it all came together very well. I thought it was very good indeed. Eris was definitely a fan as well.

Turnip (and Radish) Ghanoush

Turnip and Radish Ghanoush

This recipe is like baba ghanoush, except with turnip instead of eggplant, sweetened with a little pureed date. The recipe makes more of the date puree than it actually uses, on the (correct) assumption that you'll enjoy having more around.

My vegetable box didn't contain as much turnip as this recipe called for, but it did have watermelon radishes, so I used a combination of the two instead. That substitution worked out great in terms of both taste and color. I also added some fresh mint to the date puree (a really good addition). The only not-ideal bit was a few chunks of vegetable left in the spread that somehow escaped the attention of the food processor blade. If I did it again, I'd take the care to pass the processed mixture through a strainer or at least carefully pick through it with a fork, to catch anything that needs that extra round of blending.

The leftover date puree does in fact make a wonderful breakfast, spread on an English muffin with some of the goat cheese:

Date Spread
l33tminion: (L33t)
Time continues humming along.

My mom came to visit last weekend, which was really nice. We took the kid to the aquarium again, among other things. Eris arrived at the aquarium mid-nap again, though she did wake up before we had to go. (We were about ready to leave when the fire alarm went off. No idea what was up with that, but it doesn't seem to have gotten any mention in the news, so was probably something minor or a false alarm.)

This week was quite busy at work. Among other things, I'm preparing a presentation on some of my recent work for next week's team meeting. Tuesday was pretty snowy, and I worked from home.

Ames ([livejournal.com profile] tenshikurai9) is back in town this week, so I got the chance to catch up and introduce her to the kid.

My new phone arrived (Google's new Pixel XL). It's not super-different from my previous phone (a Nexus 6P), but it certainly has a lot of polish, the new hardware and software work really well. Eris is also excited about that (in a way) because she's recently discovered the concept of talking to people on the phone.

Eristic improvements: Knee-walking, saying "hello" and "byebye".
l33tminion: (L33t)
Last week was busy, and by the end of it I was wrecked. On Friday afternoon I picked up the kid from daycare and went to a local cafe in the hopes that a cup of coffee would revive me. No luck, I just wound up being dragged around the place by a super-energetic baby. I was hoping to enjoy a night out, but Julie wound up taking the kid and going out without me while I just crashed.

The weekend was a mixed bag. There were some good parts, including brunch with Ingress friends and a fancy steak dinner Saturday night. But I continued to be very tired, and lots of things unexpectedly went wrong (including a broken stroller, though at least it was repairable).

This week is off to a busy start. There's a meeting of my wider team in town this week, so I'm looking forward to the opportunity to see some of my colleagues from Mountain View and Zurich.
l33tminion: (L33t)
The last few weeks have been pretty busy, but fairly uneventful. Or I'm just suffering from sleep-dep induced amnesia again.

The last few days I've been really enjoying some unseasonably good weather. Thursday night, I dropped the jackets at home and went out again on a walk with the kid. Friday night. Starlite Lounge (my favorite local hipster bar) had flung open the windows and was serving piña coladas as the drink of the day. The high temp in Boston on Friday peaked at 72 degrees, the warmest February day in Boston on record (records go back to 1872). Beautiful weather continued today, with a bit of summer rain. It will be getting cold again towards the close of the weekend, though.

Eris is getting better at standing, and walking is probably not too far away.

Eristic improvements: Early unsupported stepping (in place or with minimal forward motion), some use of words, more mimicry of words.
l33tminion: (L33t)
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).
l33tminion: (AMERICA!)
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.)
l33tminion: (Junpei)
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).
l33tminion: (Smile)
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)
l33tminion: (Microbes)
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).
l33tminion: (Microbes)
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.
l33tminion: (Overwork)
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.
l33tminion: (L33t)
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.


Nov. 9th, 2016 10:46 pm
l33tminion: (AMERICA!)
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.
l33tminion: (AMERICA!)
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.
l33tminion: (Wings)
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).
l33tminion: (Overwork)
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.
l33tminion: (L33t)
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).
l33tminion: (L33t)
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.
l33tminion: (Smile)
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!


l33tminion: (Default)Sam

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