l33tminion: (Default)
In "not just me talking abut my blog" news, the last few weeks have been eventful. In particular, Eris is walking for real!

We went to Cleveland to visit my folks last weekend for Passover (first Seder at the Singers' house and the second at my parents'). Was a nice visit, despite me, Julie, and the kid being sick with bad colds. (To add to the pain, I got a stomach bug the day before traveling and Erica has some back teeth coming in.)

The weather in Cleveland was mostly mild, but when we arrived there was snow on the ground! Still, things seem to be finally warming up, which means it's an ideal time to take Erica to the park. She's far more enthusiastic about wearing shoes now that she can walk around outdoors.

Work continues to be busy, but I'm excited about the stuff I'm working on.

Despite being busy, I've managed to get in some fun. I'm still playing some Magic: the Gathering with colleagues, I've been watching Steven Universe with Xavid, and I've gotten back to watching more anime because it's really easy to catch the odd episode now that I'm mostly watching in an app on my phone. I started watching Konosuba (funny, but the sort of genre pastiche that works well only if you're already a fan of the genres it's satirizing), watched Interviews with Monster Girls (a supernatural slice-of-life show with a lot of charming visual humor), and started One Punch Man (superhero satire, the animation is great).

Eristic improvements: Walking unsupported, walking outdoors, playing on swing and roundabout and slide on playground (assisted), more active about asking us to read, pays more attention to reading, pretends to read, has become very interested in taking to people on the phone (and, alarmingly, has figured out how to call people on her own), more skill/interest in eating with fork and spoon.
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.
l33tminion: (Caffeine)
Tuesday-Thursday last week I was in Orlando for a "fun offsite", a reward to the broader Google Flights team (including the Zurich and Mountain View parts of that team) for a job well done. We stayed at the Disney hotel on the grounds of the Animal Kingdom park. Tuesday evening was dinner and an airboat ride at Wild Florida, the boat ride was fun, we got to observe alligators skulking in the reeds and hold one of the park's little alligators for a souvenir photo. On Wednesday, I went on a tour of Kennedy Space Center (pretty interesting, the space shuttle was really an impressive thing to see in person) and caught the evening fireworks show at Epcot. On Thursday, I went to Universal Orlando and rode a couple of their famous motion-simulator rides before heading for the airport for the journey home. I spent most of the time in the main park, but did duck out to the Harry Potter mini-theme-park in Islands of Adventure (Universal is keen to point out that they have tradmarked basically every word in the description of that attraction). It was charming, and the central motion-simulator ride alternated between "in front of a panoramic screen" and "moving through a tunnel stage set" segments in a way that was pretty neat, though a lot of backstage elements were clearly visible on the stage segments (intentionally to tone down those segments for the kids?).

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

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

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

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

Eristic improvements: Rolling over, trying (but failing) to get legs under her. I assume as soon as she can get onto arms and knees, she'll be off like a rocket, though.
l33tminion: (Ph34r)
I'm back in Cleveland for the start of Passover with Julie and Eris to visit my parents and siblings. It's been a while since I last celebrated Passover with my immediate family, not since I left for college in 2004. Introducing the kid to a lot of new people. She seems to be having a good time.

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

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

Developmental milestones for the kid: Trying to roll over (but not quite succeeding), lifting self onto forearms. She's working on those mobility upgrades.

All Hail

Jan. 4th, 2016 01:13 am
l33tminion: (Ph34r)
I was going to write something about how New Year's was quite but that I expected 2016 to be more eventful, but didn't get around to it before things got very eventful indeed.

The New Year's party at The Buttery (friends' household; that house's New Year's party is a long-running tradition) was cancelled due to an outbreak of bedbugs. Sensible that they didn't want to risk hosting a bunch of guests before that was contained, but still really unfortunate. Instead spent the evening having New Year's dinner at Bergamot with Julie and watching Man in the High Castle with Tim.

New Year's day was mostly quiet. Went out for brunch, watched more TV. Got to bed somewhat late, at around 2AM.

Saturday we woke up at 3:40AM with the first signs that the baby would be making an entrance. By the time we were catching a ride at around 5AM, labor was starting for real (the Uber driver was pretty calm about the hospital run). By 6:20AM when we arrived in the room, Julie was already in active labor, and the final stages were in progress by 8AM. The whole thing was probably on course to be over well before noon. But the fetal heart-rate was worryingly low. Not so low that the doctors felt a need to intervene immediately, but worrying enough that they didn't want to wait too long before hastening the baby's entrance. At 8:50AM, they decided they couldn't wait longer to intervene, and with no other options yet available, C-section it was. At 9:05AM, the baby was out in the world, healthy and ready to fulfill ironic prophecies. (The surgical team at Brigham and Women's works fast.) Julie was a trooper for the whole thing, which she had to endure without so much as a soak in the tub (which had been prepared, and then could not be used when continuous monitoring of the fetal heart rate was required).

So here's the new entrant: Erica "Eris"1,2 Norville Freilich, 9 lbs. 2 oz., 21.5 inches. Cute kid, big for a newborn. I remember thinking when I first held her in the OR that this is definitely a baby, but couldn't quite wrap my head around it being my baby. Still can't quite wrap my head around it, but expect it will all make sense soon enough.

Due to the surgery, we're taking a few extra days in the hospital so Julie can recover while we start to get into the new routine. A few friends have managed to visit us in the hospital so far (Tim, DJ and Michelle), and Julie's dad arrived in town today, with various other family visits scheduled for later in the month. Very tired already, though it's not too bad.

My leave from work is commencing immediately and I'll be out all of first quarter.

1. I'd be lying if I said I didn't like this name in part due to this potential nickname. I also like that "Erica" is related to "Heather" (Julie's mother's name).
2. Alternately, Erica "Lobster" etc. Julie points out that Erica "Lobster" Freilich makes for good initials given the kid's somewhat pointy ears.
l33tminion: (L33t)
Stories from The Nest:

I installed a fancy new thermostat in my new home.

I realized the front door key we received doesn't open some of the locks in the house. Ability to open the back door from outside doesn't really matter, but it would be handy to be able to unlock the garage directly without having to go in through the front door first. So I guess I'll need to have a date with the locksmith.

In other news of things that are broken that I should have noticed right away, the dishwasher latch is broken, doesn't close securely, never closed securely, and has no failsafes that prevent it from operating while not securely closed. At least the latch can be replaced, so with luck we will not need an entire new dishwasher.

Furniture-related chores are on the verge of being finished. The long tail is long.

Yesterday was the first Christmas for a while spent at home. Julie and I unwrapped presents, then went out for dim sum with a distant cousin and her friends (who were, it turned out, mostly Mensans), followed by the new Star Wars (spoiler free: I though it was a good movie, and a very good Star Wars movie).

Today was quiet. Met up with DJ and Michelle for lunch, which was nice.
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: (Silly Dance)
I really enjoyed spending the long weekend with Julie. We had Thanksgiving dinner with my Boston family, worked on more of the long tail of new-house chores, saw a movie (the second part of Mockingjay, which was pretty good), ate a fancy dinner at Clio Restaurant (which is closing at the end of the month).

We also went to some parenting classes and a tour at Brigham and Women's. The imminence of parenthood is becoming manifest.

Work is busy for both of us. Julie is wrapping up a paper in the coming weeks, I'm organizing training sessions (and teaching a session) for my project at work.

Ingress is celebrating it's third year. As a result, I wanted to reach level 13 before Tuesday, which for me required capturing about 130 portals I hadn't captured before. So I was running around downtown after dark in the cold today, while Julie toiled in lab. (I did it, though. Victory!)
l33tminion: (L33t)
I've been having a relaxing time in Lubbock with family and family friends. Julie's parents are wonderful hosts, as always. All her siblings made it into town, and Julie's uncle even drove down from Canada (!) to visit. Christmas dinner was delicious, and people got me and Julie really nice and thoughtful gifts.

I finished reading The Feminine Mystique. That was an influential book for a reason, and it's a very interesting look into late 1950s feminism. That plus The Two Income Trap (which I also read recently) make a very interesting pair of book-ends for the latter half of the 20th century.

Also read How Children Learn. Wonderful book, really interesting and optimistic stuff. I really wish John Holt had succeeded in more of his education reform goals, but I really need to read more by him and his cohort.

Julie and I saw two movies on the trip, Mockingjay - Part 1 (very well put-together, though I still think they could have made the book into a single movie) and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (I enjoyed it; while I don't think this trilogy is as good as Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy, it certainly stands up as an entertaining big-budget cinema spectacle). Saw the latter film at Alamo Drafthouse, which really deserves its reputation as the best big theater chain. Wish there was one in the Boston area.

On Sunday, I got a terrible stomach bug (the only bad bit of my trip) and spent the day drinking tea and watching Psycho-Pass (a cyberpunk dystopian police procedural, in a somewhat similar vein to Ghost in the Shell; worth watching if you like the genre, the first season is up on Netflix).

We were going to return to Boston today, but our flight was canceled on account of some ice. We're now scheduled to get in tomorrow, will see how that turns out.
l33tminion: (L33t)
I've started playing Ingress (a territory-capturing MMOARG game by Google's Niantic Labs). I originally tried the game when it was first in beta, but then didn't get into it until just recently. It's pretty fun, and I got Julie to start playing, too. (My username is Macrologist, my faction is Enlightened.)

Other things:

Olin Expo was awesome! Especially the Principles of Engineering projects (a "create a hardware/software prototype" class, which in my day was PIC micro-controller + PIC assembly or C, but now is a lot of Arduino or Raspberry Pi + Python using libraries like OpenCV). The tech available for hardware/software prototyping has come a long way in the last eight year. Olin's computer science curriculum is getting stronger, too.

Hanukkah parties with extended family and family friends were fun.

Wednesday, we woke-up super-early to fly to Lubbock and visit Julie's extended family for Christmas. I am really enjoying the vacation.
l33tminion: (L33t)
The usual joke about "getting a haircut" (I got all of them cut) applies to me more than usual this week. My receding-at-the-temples baldness has turned into all around shaggy-patchy baldness, so clippers all around it is. The result is much shorter than I've worn in the past, but it looks at least somewhat reasonable, if still not completely dignified.

The Google Holiday party was today, a "winter wonderland" party with s'mores and scotch and dinner at the Charles Hotel. It was fun!

Work this week has been rough. Didn't get enough sleep last night, so heading to bed now.
l33tminion: (Wings)
I'm in Shaker Heights for Thanksgiving (Julie, too). We've actually been in Cleveland since Sunday morning, but haven't gotten around to posting because... I don't know why. I feel like this vacation is getting away from me, though it's been really nice seeing the friends and family I've seen.

The train in was running super-late, so we didn't get home until 7AM on Sunday. The weather has been blustery and cold in turns, turning to snow.

My folks are doing well. I got some time to catch up with my siblings. My sister, Melissa, is freelancing and busy with tech week for a show. I got to see her and meet her boyfriend, Elliot, on Thanksgiving day. My brother, Solomon, started a new job at Crop Kitchen a few weeks ago, and our family had dinner at the restaurant on Wednesday (it's good!). Julie, Solomon, and I went to the Natural History Museum. We went out on the town with Markos and Co (including his new girlfriend, who's really interesting and nice and hangs out with a cool crowd). We caught up with Dan and Anne, who are preparing for incoming progeny in T minus some small number. I was also happy to hear from my Cousin Miriam, who called from the other side of the globe with some Thanksgiving well-wishes. Thanksgiving dinner was wonderful.

The national (and local, for Cleveland) news has me all out of sorts. I'll limit my commentary to this (which I've repeated a few times elsewhere): There's more to the systemic social issues surrounding race relations in America than implicit bias lowering barriers to violence in the moments before a tragedy. An 18-year-old getting in a fist-fight with a police officer or an unsupervised 12-year-old pointing a realistic-looking toy gun at strangers in a park in a neighbourhood with a high incidence of armed crime and gang violence, those are also things that happen in context.

I also want to share a few related links to things that have been impinging on my thoughts:My 10-year high school reunion is Saturday. It seems few of my high school friends will be there. I guess it will be interesting to see who else remembers me. I've changed a lot since high school, and I'm thankful for that, to say the least.
l33tminion: (Conga!)
Last weekend was DJ and Michelle's wedding. I was honored to be in the wedding party. Many congratulations to the happy couple!

Work is still crazy. Last week got my promo feedback. The bad news is that I didn't get promoted, even though I'd thought my case was strong enough this time. The good news is I got more positive and more specific feedback than my last attempt: Work on larger projects with a broader scope, show leadership by doing things that facilitate / coordinate the efforts of a larger group. I've made some adjustments to my plans with those priorities in mind, and last week was wildly productive. I hope I can maintain that rate of productivity.

Today, I participated in a discussion of the book Oryx and Crake for the C-Realm Podcast. The book is worth reading if you like dystopian / apocalyptic fiction. Just checked the sequel out from the library.

The book group at work just finished a book of Joel Spolsky's essays, which was interesting but probably not very helpful in my day-to-day work. But our next choice is Working Effectively With Legacy Code, which I expect will be mind-explodingly relevant.

The weather is summery this weekend. Today was a beautiful day for biking, and I made it home just in time to avoid a torrential late-afternoon downpour. Temps getting up near 80 on Monday.

Julie is away this weekend visiting her folks for Mother's Day. Next weekend is my cousin Ben's wedding.
l33tminion: (L33t)
Returned from Christmas vacation on last Thursday, but not going back to work until next Thursday. Since getting home, I've been getting back to cooking and exercising and wrapping up some chores.

Christmas vacation was fun and relaxing. The best part was getting to spend time with my niece, Emilia, who's much less of a newborn now. She's such a friendly baby. Not quite walking yet, but getting there any day now, she has the strength but not quite the balance and coordination.

I saw a few movies: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire during the break (good adaptation of the books, I thought; the theme of the previews seemed to be "now with more CGI", including this one), Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters on the plane there (actually pretty entertaining, makes me want to go back and watch The Lightning Thief), and Paranoia (the 2013 one) on the way back (not very good, but sure captures the cultural zeitgeist with regard to tech companies).
l33tminion: (L33t)
Thanksgiving break was great. I really enjoyed spending time with Cleveland friends and family. Though the travel itself was a bit exhausting, the trip was a nice break. We saw some plays that my sister, Melissa worked on in some capacity, a Cleveland Playhouse production of "Venus in Fur" (Melissa is interning at the Cleveland Playhouse this year; that one was a fantastic show, with amazing acting and staging) and a convergence-continuum production of "Fool for Love" (she did fight direction; I didn't find that play quite as compelling).

Since I got back, work has been all right, but stressful. My workouts have resumed, that at least is going great. The weather was that sort of mild winter weather that seems so much warmer than the first time in the year those temperatures came around, clear skies turning to fog later in the week. I was expecting to wake up to serious snow today, but the weather must have taken an unexpected turn, since things stayed dry. We didn't miss the nationwide cold-snap, though, winter is back.
l33tminion: (Slacker Revolt)
It's been a great holiday season. Exchanging gifts, taking time to relax, good meals and time shared with housemates, friends, and family!

Visiting Julie's folks over Christmas break has been great. A much-needed break, and a lovely celebration.

Only negative point is that I am still sick, with this week's feature even worse than last. What a crazy cold season! This is clearly the winter to guard your health closely. Hopefully my sneezing and sniffling and general irritability didn't make me too bad company, despite having to retreat to bed early on several nights (including tonight). Today is the first day I've felt much better, so with any luck I'll mostly be recovered for tomorrow. Air travel while sick is no fun at all.

I saw Django Unchained, which was pretty much what I expected from the trailer. I thought it was okay, but it lagged in the third act, with action more brutal and gory than interesting or suspenseful. A cross between shock cinema and spaghetti western. If you like Tarantino's more pulpy stuff and the trailer appealed, you'd probably like it (probably not as much as other Tarantino films). Otherwise, skip it for sure. (Edit: The acting and costuming and cinematography are still quite good, though.)

I'm looking forward to New Year's celebrations. 2012 was quite a year. I wonder what 2013 will hold?
l33tminion: (Junpei)
Lots to give thanks for this year! I was really glad that Julie was able to join me for the whole vacation this time, and it was a welcome break. We relaxed, drank a lot of fresh-brewed coffee, and spent lots of time with family and friends. The travel was pretty uneventful, save for an annoying hour-long delay mere moments out of Cleveland on the train there. The only bad bit was a minor pulled muscle (from the previous week) that turned into a major pain in the neck, so modern medicine was another thing for which I was quite immediately thankful.

I have a new pair of shoes. I've been wearing the New Balance Minimus Trail MT20 for a while now, but found that while the shoes are incredibly comfortable, they have some serious durability issues. After my first pair wore out in three months, I bought the MT20v2, in hopes they would have fixed the problem. That pair also only lasted three months. I contacted New Balance and they offered me a free pair of MT1010 in exchange for the worn out shoes. I got those today, and they seem all right, I'll see if they hold up better than the last.

Also, Ghost Trick is a pretty great game. The puzzles aren't that mind-bending, but it's clever, and the mystery (about a time-traveling ghost trying to solve the mystery of his own murder by averting other people's deaths) is well-told.
l33tminion: (Microbes)
Happy New Year! The New Year's celebrations were good!

2011 was interesting. 2012 will likely be more interesting. Crazy thought.

Today should be my first work day of the year, but I am home sick.

I have a new phone (the Verizon model of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus) courtesy of my employer. On the one hand, I miss some of the extra features HTC Sense adds to the Android platform (better dialer interface, Facebook integration in the address book and better merging of duplicate contacts). But it's certainly a powerful phone with a very cool UI and a huge screen.

I started playing the Portal 2 "Peer Review" DLC (pretty fun).

If I had something more interesting to post, it's completely slipped my mind.
l33tminion: (Exercise)
Happy 2011, everybody!

New Year's was a blast. Went to New Year's party at The Buttery (this communal home founded by some SCA people), spent the weekend hanging out with DJ, Michelle, and Ames.

Got in a little bouldering Monday and spent it all failing v1s.

Up late a lot this week, but still getting a lot done.

Saturday will be a road trip to NH to pick up Michelle's new kitten. Sunday there are brunch plans in the works.

Weekend after that is Mystery Hunt!

Following the start of the new congressional session has been... entertaining.

Various clothes-related things continue: Still working on shirts (slowly), acquiring a few sweaters and more chino pants. Suits (new and old) need to go to tailor.* Black dress shoes are still on my list (think I know what I'm getting there, though).

Fitness stuff also continues: Weight is hovering around 160, but some gain in muscle (I think). Trying the hundred pushups program and have managed to push my max rested up a few in a few weeks.

* I probably should have brought my old suit to the tailor instead of buying a new suit this summer. I currently have two very similar gray suits, neither of which fits that well, and the new one may well be worse quality than the old. I'm not sure whether the right solution is "tailor both", or "identify the better one, tailor that, donate the other". But honestly this should barely be in my mind at all, since I hardly ever wear a suit.
l33tminion: (Default)
Things that happened in the past week or so:

Nikki was in town and DJ and I were her guests at her aunt's Christmas party in NH, which was something to behold: There was a bonfire, caroling on a horse-cart ride (a neighbor had some gigantic draft-horses used to haul lumber), fireworks, and more cookies, pies, and extended family members than you could shake a stick at. On our way up, we beheld the wonders of the NH State Liquor store and bought some interesting meats at The Healthy Buffalo.

Monday, got back to climbing. Still unreliably working at about 5.7+/5.8.

Tuesday was Squares. Spent some time hanging with Ames and Dante on Wednesday. Thursday morning worked with my trainer and Thursday afternoon had my yearly physical (I was up for a tetanus immunization booster, and my shoulder is still sore).

Thursday evening was venison chili and Amélie (excellent movie, don't know how I missed that for so long given how much I love Jeunet's stuff) with DJ and Michelle. Friday, saw The King's Speech (excellent, character-driven film, great acting and direction) with Julia. Friday, had Dim Sum at Hei La Moon and saw True Grit (great, a must if you like westerns, now I need to see the original) with [livejournal.com profile] lbmango and Co. In the afternoon, I shamelessly flaunted my Christmas orphan status until Michelle took pity on me and invited me to her extended-family celebration (coincidentally, right in my neighborhood; delicious Cajun dinner, energetic little cousins, one creepy robot cat, Pillow Pets™, and a game of Bananagrams).

Still have some clothes-related stuff in progress: Got back my first shirt ordered from MakeYourOwnJeans (perfect in some dimensions but needs a bit of adjustment in others), put in a second order. Still waiting on TailorStore. Also still waiting on Daswani, but already regretting my choice of color on the additional button-downs (in addition to white dress shirt and blue Oxford, went with the tailor's advice of burgundy and brown button-downs, which I now feel was ill-advised).

Currently, getting in one of Xave's very infrequent games of D&D via Skype.
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