l33tminion: (Default)
I was doing well on posting, then suddenly I was once again super-behind.

I don't even need to know where to begin with political news. The Comey stuff wasn't very unexpected: Trump leaned on Comey to shut down the Flynn investigation, then when Comey demurred, Trump fired him. But of course Trump's core supporters are going to come out thinking this is totally fine, it's Trump being Trump.

Rumors that Trump didn't know there was a US military base in Quatar before being persuaded by the Saudis to side with them in a diplomatic crisis based on a fake news report are pretty alarming, though. Ditto for him leaving out a line about article 5 (the mutual defense pact bit) during his speech at NATO. But perhaps that's another thing that would please his supporters.

Then the UK elections happened this weekend, in a total back-fire for the Conservatives where liberal gains in parliament might ironically result in an even more right-wing UK government, as the Conservatives now are beholden to a far-right coalition partner for a majority. Or just a completely destabilized government, who knows?

In other news, the greatest climber in the world climbed El Capitan in Yosemite without ropes. Insanity, but it's amazing that a human can even accomplish such a feat.

Work's been busy, I've been shifting my focus a bit in terms of which goals I'll aim to accomplish before the end of the quarter. That's going well.

I've been watching a bit of Steven Universe with Xave over lunch break (it's a fun show, though the longer plot arcs seem to be slow to build; I love the style of visual humor, the animation is brilliant).

It's Pride week, and the parade yesterday was big and colorful as always. The weather has been hot. It's not even summer yet.

Today I was mostly out and about with the kid doing errands.

There's nothing like a cool shower in the dark after a hot day.

My parents are off on a European holiday. Enjoying the photos. Happy anniversary!

Eristic improvements: Fetching objects by name, better memory of numbers and letters, recognition of specific letters (maybe), matching shapes to outlines (including letters), some new words (including "apple" and "[ba]nana").
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 piƱa 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)
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)
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.
l33tminion: (Jon Stewart)
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.
l33tminion: (L33t)
Still doing these omnibus weekly posts because I'm not actually getting around to posting more often.

Last weekend was the MIT Mystery Hunt. This year's hunt was themed after the movie Inception. The first round, a dog-show themed hunt, turned out to be just a dream. The subsequent rounds had hunters waking a team of famous sleepers to escape a series of nested dreams and extract a secret from the mind of the ultimate dreamer (in this hunt, the Coin was hidden within the Alchemist). Despite some technical difficulties, the hunt was very well put-together. Repeating last year's feat, my team (Death & Mayhem) completed the hunt, placing third. (The coin was found at 6:53PM on Sunday, hunt HQ closed the hunt at 9PM, four teams were able to finish the final runaround.) I put in a bit of effort to help with some of the puzzles remotely, but I don't think I was a significant help with any of them this year. Puzzles and solutions are up here.

A few favorite puzzles from this year:
Off the Leash (figuring out the form of the puzzle takes some cleverness)
Road Trip (a simple, feel-good puzzle)
The Case of the Dangerous Game (another clever puzzle form)
Losers (wordplay puzzle)
identify, SORT, index, solve (the classic Mystery Hunt puzzle form)
Time Suck (a spongmonkeys puzzle!)
The Gibous, Non-Euclidean Program (spooky punchcards)

The rest of the week went well. Though Eris has been having a few wakeful nights, the worst two nights ago when she wanted to feed for half-an-hour every two hours. My mom was in town for the week and was pleasant company and tremendous help.

The baby has acquired a belly-button, in the traditional passing of belly-buttons on to the next generation.

Julie's family was going to be visiting this weekend, but their plans got waylaid by a Nor'easter and they had to reschedule. We'd all had reservations at East Coast Grill, a historic Inman Square restaurant that soon will be closing forever. Wound up inviting some more Boston friends to take advantage of the reservation. East Coast isn't my favorite Boston restaurant (probably not even in my top ten favorite restaurants in this neighborhood, though to be fair Inman and Union Squares have a lot of really excellent restaurants), but they were a good spot and a very significant part of the neighborhood.

Julie's family will reschedule their trip for March, when (hopefully) the weather will be more accommodating.

I'm continuing to make progress on my todos and random houshold tasks. I got some WD-40 to oil a squeaky hinge, so now my engineer's toolkit is complete.
l33tminion: (L33t)
This December has been surprisingly mild. We met some of our neighbors this weekend because they were outside with friends enjoying the weather and grilling some steaks on their corner patio.

The back streets of our new corner of Somerville (though not far from where we were previously) are much less subdued in terms of yard decorations. There are quite a few elaborate nativity scenes and light displays on the walk between our house and Inman Square.

I hired someone to clean the place, so now everything is nice and shiny. I bought spices and cooked some of my first home-cooked meals here. Progress is being made on the long tail of new-house chores. Thank-you notes have been started, hopefully can finish the batch before the recipient of most of those gifts actually arrives.

The training sessions I was organizing for work are now done. Things generally went well. Still have much to do.
l33tminion: (Enlightened)
Very tired lately.

Olin Career Fair last week was great. I enjoyed the panel discussion. Career Fair is very lively, my voice was really tired by the end of the day.

There was an Ingress event in Boston last Saturday, a lightning-round version of the global game of keep-away that was part of the last round of events. Each team fought over 36 in-game objects, jumping them from landmark to landmark to one of their team's goals. The field was set at 20 minutes past noon, with jumps every 15 minutes from 1PM to 5. My team (the green Enlightened) fought our way to victory, 18-15. Was a good game, strategy was dynamic and interesting, and both teams brought a good crowd of players and high-level gameplay.

My mom was in town last weekend, so we got in some lunches at Google and dinner with extended family. On Sunday, we wandered into Honk! and the annual Octoberfest in Harvard Square. Very nice to have an opportunity to catch up.

Next weekend, Julie and I will be visiting her family in Lubbock.
l33tminion: (L33t)
I spent much of the weekend playing World of Geographycraft. Sunday, took a completely impractical trip to Mt. Greylock with Julie and Tim. The mountain is notable for being the highest natural point in Massachusetts and one of the landmarks on the Appalachian Trail, it would be an enjoyable place to hike if I'm ever there earlier in the day. On Monday, I was off work for Memorial Day, and spent many hours randomly wandering around Arlington.

There are lots of things I want to do more of. I want to get to some of the games on my queue, but I probably have a greater desire to do more writing (to get back to posting here more, plus I haven't written for ComplexMeme in months), reading, and cooking. (Not counting work and other important things. Those are going well, but the going well is very time-consuming.)

It's starting to get hot. A mockingbird has once again moved in near to my house, with the usual combination of talented repertoire and being obnoxiously loud at all hours of the night.

I got a (very short) haircut today. That avoids the scruffy uneven look and should be nice for summer, but I'm well into the hair-loss territory where I'll need to remember a hat or risk terrible scalp sunburn.

Level Up!

May. 17th, 2015 12:28 am
l33tminion: (L33t)
Another busy week at work!

Now that it's public within the company, I can say: I got that promotion! There were celebrations this week, a cake with my name on it and everything. Relieved that my hard work paid off, and that I don't have to contend with that process again for at least a few years.

I also made it to the top-eight in the office's M:tG block limited tournament. I'm really enjoying the new set and the twist it puts in the block format (a good way to transition to the new two-set blocks).

This weekend has been relaxing so far. Caught a bit of Porchfest (a Somerville-wide outdoor music festival) and did a bit of spring cleaning.
l33tminion: (L33t)
After the snow last week, I got out to Olin for career fair, which was awesome! Also ran a resume workshop, which went really well.

I came up with a silly metaphor for my resume remarks, which I hope will stick in students' minds: A resume is like a cupcake, served upside-down.

You have the wrapper, essential but not exciting. That's name, contact information, what are you studying and when, and your summary of skills (useful, but that's a summary of a summary, so keep it short).

You have the cake, the main point. That's delicious work experience! Ideally, this section is the closest approximation you can muster to, "I did exactly this job, did it extremely well, and have the numbers to prove it." Prioritize discussing relevant paid work, followed by relevant close approximations of paid work and relevant projects that produced something concrete. Discuss unrelated employment if necessary, but more briefly. Use metrics to quantify your achievement (at least showing that you set goals and measured results, ideally show that your results were impressive). Estimate if necessary. On the job learning is a good thing to demonstrate, and that can be something to quantify as well.

Finally, you may want to add a bit of icing, some leadership position or award or hobby that makes you look cool or smart or interesting but isn't directly relevant to work. I don't think there's a real risk that the person who doesn't put any hobbies on their resume will be looked down on, but if you have something cool, it might help your resume be memorable and might help you have something good to talk about in interviews that have more social-skills-y "so tell me about you" sorts of questions.


The rest of the week was very busy, and this weekend is once again mired in snow. (With more scheduled for next Tuesday and then a significant amount next weekend.) I braved the snow to have Valentine's Day dinner with Julie at Cafe Artscience. We went out for brunch at Puritan and Co. and I made hot chocolate at home.

I'm glad to have the day off tomorrow.
l33tminion: (L33t)
Snow day today. And tomorrow.

This is not a repost from last week. Or the week before. This is the snowiest winter recorded in Boston. And it's not letting up. Getting a bit more snow Thursday and Sunday, very cold into the weekend and next week.

It was a pretty good day, warm at home. Did a bit of cooking yesterday and today, got some work done, and took Julie out to dinner at Bergamot (always a fantastic meal).

Spent a lot of time with friends this weekend and played a lot of games (of which a favorite was Splendor).

On Wednesday, I'll be back at Olin running Google's table at the spring career fair.
l33tminion: (L33t)
So how about them local sports teams?

Boston got a significant snowstorm last week and a follow up early this week. Friday is bringing just enough snow to tide us over before another snowstorm Sunday-Monday, with not much melting in between, and some very cold weather, too. (Mild today, though.)

I'm trying to figure out logistics for conferences and other travel in the spring.

The last few weeks included lots of birthday parties, and one going-away party (for Gui, who's off to San Francisco to build giant robots).

Also games: Enjoyed the tech-tree building card game Progress: Evolution of Technology and the industry-building board game Brass. On the digital side, enjoyed the impossible-architecture platforming puzzle-game Monument Valley (it's not long or super-difficult, but it is beautiful and clever, well worth the few dollars it costs).

Work is stressful, but productive.
l33tminion: (L33t)
Julie's sister and dad and our niece made it to Boston this weekend for a fall visit. The weather earlier this week was cold and rainy, but we were lucky this weekend to have the most beautiful late-October weather, cool and sunny with only the tiniest bit of (beautiful!) late-afternoon rain on Sunday. We ate lobster rolls, walked from Boston Common to the Prudential Center, traversed some of the Greenway, and took Emilia to the New England Aquarium (it's really fun to take kids there, and I have very fond memories of the place from when I was really young). I love having out-of-town guests in Boston, there's so much I love about this city. I enjoyed catching up with extended family. And our niece is growing into quite a strong, energetic, and independent-minded kid (also unusually willing to help clean up and well behaved in restaurants). One of the strange things about having young relatives out-of-town, it's like time has gone in fast-forward every time I see them.

The Leadership Summit at work last week was tiring but very interesting. I'm looking forward to a productive week, so I'd better get to bed.
l33tminion: (L33t)
It seems the heart of Inman Square (that is, the block of Cambridge St. between Inman St. and Prospect St.) is in a major transitional phase. There are more closed shops than I've seen since I moved in. Inman Square Supermarket (a small convenience/grocery store) is now gone. The Cambridge Bukowski is closed for renovations (supposedly reopening in the fall, but doesn't look ready yet). Haveli (an Indian restaurant) is gone, to be replaced by Hops N Scotch (but that doesn't look like it will be opening soon). Christina's Spice Shop is closed in prep for a move further up Cambridge Street.

It seems like economic growth pains as opposed to economic decline, but it still looks like a painful transition.
l33tminion: (L33t)
Last weekend: BarCamp Boston (a tech unconference) was fun. Probably the sessions I got the most out of were a discussion of technical interviews, which prompted me to write this essay, and a workshop on public speaking by Eric Wei.

Last week: Work was very busy, but I made good progress on several things. I gave my presentation for QPX Training and got good feedback.

This weekend: Summery weather yesterday (the last for the year?). Had brunch on the patio at Neighborhood Restaurant and went to the Union Square Farmer's Market. There was a Yelp Somerville party at Brooklyn Boulders in the evening. Today, the weather turned cold. Broke my winter jacket out of storage and put some summer clothes away.

This week: Thursday and Friday I'll be attending the Google Cambridge Leadership Summit.

Next weekend: Julie's dad and sister and our niece will be in town!
l33tminion: (L33t)
On Saturday, Julie and I went apple-picking with Xavid, Sarah, and Leslie. Then we went home, visited the newly-renovated Savenor's (open again as of a few weeks ago, but just then celebrating their reopening), and cooked up a storm: Delicata squash with apples and bacon, pumpkin stuffed with kasha and venison, roast pumpkin seeds with espresso salt, and homemade applesauce.

Savenor's has redone their Cambridge location to really focus on what they do best. They've ditched the produce section (which had a hard time setting itself above and beyond Whole Foods and local farmers markets) and shrunk the selection of packaged specialty foods to something much more curated and interesting. Their display of meats now stretches across the store, they have a display cooler for dry-aged steaks, and their selection of cheese has improved, too (or at least is shown off more effectively). Wolf Meadow Farm was sampling their cheese at the grand reopening, and it was just incredible.

Today, we made cabbage pie (like spinach pie, vegetable with egg and feta in layered filo). Turned out delicious!

At work this week, I'm preparing a presentation for a training session that will be held next week. I'm looking forward to helping new colleagues with a feature of my project I know a lot about, but it's a lot of material to prepare in very little time.
l33tminion: (L33t)
I thought summer had gone for good, but there's some nice warm weather this weekend.

The week was very nice. Enjoying biking while the weather was good, enjoyed riding home after the party Monday. Weather just nice enough that it's pleasant to bike near the Charles. My Hubway key broke later in the week (after being on its last legs for a long while), but the replacement arrived today.

Rosh Hashanah dinner with family was nice, and my parents sent the usual care package of honey cake and well wishes. (Thanks, it was delicious!)

There are many challenging things to work on this week at work, so the week was very tiring.

Today, I got some chores done and went to the Marshmallow Fluff Festival in Union Square (very lively this year, big crowd turned out for the wonderful weather). And now I am exhausted.

But is was a good week, and I still have a day to relax before work resumes.
l33tminion: (Conga!)
Friday: Went to one of WMBR's 50 Years of Boston Rock concert series at Cuisine en Locale at Anthony's (up on Highland in Somerville). Very cool venue. Mistle Thrush did not disappoint, all the music was great, and the sheer quantity of getting the band back together made for a fun atmosphere.

Saturday: Thomas and Melissa (friends from SCA dance) got married. Julie and I went to their wedding at St. James's Episcopal Church near Porter Square (my first time attending a church wedding ceremony). They had some cool wedding clothes (which Melissa made herself, including some really elaborate and beautiful embroidery), and there was a reception afterwards at the German-American Club in Walpole with board games and cake. (The German-American Club is a pretty cool event venue, I'd been there previously for SCA events. Aside from the usual things that would recommend a venue for large events, they have excellent beer and they're the only event venue I've seen with a cash bar that doesn't charge captive audience prices.) It was a wonderful time, and a very heart-warming occasion. Best wishes to the happy couple!

Sunday: Xave ran the game he wrote for Iron GM at Intercon again, so I had a chance to play it. Was fun.

This week is going to be busy in a good way, too. Yelp Elite fall party this evening, Rosh Hashana dinner with family on Wednesday, Fluff Festival next Saturday. The weather is getting colder and fall festivities abound!
l33tminion: (Conga!)
My best wishes to all the celebrants (or penitents) of Allston Christmas this weekend (in particular, to the several friends I have suffering through the various stages of housing transition). Let me offer the traditional Allston Christmas prayer: May your nights be free of bedbugs, may your neighbor's curb be laden with good furniture, may you only encounter bridges with sufficient clearance for your moving vehicle, may your back and mind be uninjured by the burdens you must bear. Amen.

Julie and I went to the Brattle quite a lot this weekend. Saw The Godfather parts I and II double-feature on Saturday (indeed an amazing movie I'd missed seeing for far too long), Manhattan today (I didn't really like it that much, the ending was a bit too simple, the characters unsympathetic in a way that seems a bit too self-referential). This evening, rewatched some of Firefly with Xave and Sarah, Sunday afternoon played board games with some friends. The long weekend was pretty full and fun.

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