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: (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.
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: (Rock!)
Housing acquired! Picking up keys tomorrow, move scheduled for mid-November.

It took an extra week due to circumstances beyond our control (some finicky details about an international deed transfer not done correctly the first time by the seller). But now it's done for real.

Stress is still wearing on me. Still, there are quite a few things I'm really looking forward to: Spending time with cousins this weekend, my mom is visiting town next weekend, there's an Ingress event in Boston next Saturday, and the weekends after that include some last-minute trips home.

I led a tech talk on interviewing at Google at Olin last week, and I'll be at Olin again for the career fair and a tech interviews panel discussion this week. I really enjoy helping out with that aspect of recruiting!

I saw The Martian on a work movie outing on Friday. The book is great, and the movie is a great adaptation. For the most part, it sticks closely to the book's plot with some judicious trimming for time. Though it does manage to make the book's over-the-top ending even more implausible, and there are a few moments where the cuts cause some of the funny bits to make less sense, or where the movie goes a little bit too far with putting viewer-friendly interfaces on everything. If you at all think you might like a story about an astronaut trying to survive being stranded on Mars, I recommend you see the movie and watch the book, in either order.


Aug. 4th, 2015 12:02 am
l33tminion: (L33t)
Drove out to Windsor Locks, CT for 9Pi-Con this weekend. Was really excited to be able to attend that again. Last year, they were on hiatus, the year before I had a schedule conflict. As always, it was a really relaxing and fun convention, good panel discussions, readings, parties, and games. Unfortunately, this one is to be the last in the series.

Last week, started a housing search. That continues this week. Hopefully won't be too long, it's really disruptive. We're working with a real estate agent, thinking of buying something of our own this time.

On an unrelated note, caught two movies in the past few weeks: Mr. Holmes was very good, Ian McKellen's performance as an aging Sherlock Holmes is brilliant. And Inside Out was great, well worth seeing in theaters. The advertising for that film looked pretty dumb, so I was surprised when it got such rave reviews, but it turns out that in addition to the visual humor and charming animation, it's a moving story with a huge amount of depth. It's a surprisingly high-theory movie for a family-friendly animated film. (One of the anthropromorphized emotions passes time reading from a shelf of mental how-to manuals, I wouldn't be surprised if that was an inside joke referring to some a shelf full of psychology textbooks sitting somewhere in the animators' office.)
l33tminion: (Yay!)
Media I've consumed lately:

Existence by David Brin - Brin writes far future sci-fi with a lot of references to the present and a strong ideological bent (if you're familiar with his nonfiction or his blog, large parts of this book seem like an author tract). That said, this sprawling story about humanity's encounter with an alien message in a bottle is an enjoyable read. If you like Brin's earlier work (especially Earth) or sprawling multi-threaded sci-fi tomes like Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon, give this one a try.

Ex Machina - A programmer is summoned to the remote estate of an eccentric software billionaire genius. He soon is told that his purpose is to play the questioner in thought experiment where the subject is an experimental AI. It's hard to go into more detail without spoilers, except to say that if that premise sounds good to you, you'll probably enjoy the movie. I thought it was pretty good.

Time of Eve: Another Act by Kei Mizuichi - This one is a novelization of the anime of the same name (trailer here). The adaptation sticks pretty close, but I think the movie is better, so I'll recommend that first. The story is Asimov by way of Japan, and if you like Asimovian robot stories at all, you shouldn't miss this one. It's brilliant.

Avengers: Age of Ultron: It's very entertaining!
l33tminion: (Enlightened)
Pasadena trip last weekend (a side-trip for Julie, on her way to Synberc) was really good. Got to play in one of the Ingress live events (a win for our team in Pasadena, though still an overall loss for this series). Enjoyed spending some time with Sean and Morgan (my sibs-in-law), catching up with some of Julie's old friends, visiting Caltech, drinking strawberry lemonade at the Caltech Athenaeum, and seeing some of the more touristy spots in LA. Was quite a shock to go from 20 degrees to 90 in the span of a week.

Got back to work in time to wrap up some end of quarter things before heading off to PyCon in Montreal next Tuesday. And I've made further conference plans to go to the European Lisp Symposium in London the following week.

Friday, I was struck down by a horrible stomach bug (or flu or something). The worst. At least it wasn't while I was travelling.

Today, I finally got around to seeing The Golden Compass, which I'd had out from Netflix on DVD for the last far-too-many months. I'll warn those who have read the book to not expect much depth in the adaptation and those who have not to not expect a lot of hand-holding on the exposition. Honestly, I think the movie is probably about as good as a movie that adapts that book into an under-two-hours pulp-fantasy PG-13 pic could be. The pacing is very tight, they have a very talented cast, and the visual style is spectacular. I enjoyed it.
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)
Thirst Boston was last weekend. I didn't hear about it last year until it was happening, but from all the buzz among involved acquaintances on social media, it seemed like a cool event. This year I couldn't decide whether or not to go, but then Julie got us Saturday tickets last minute. It was a lot of fun, very interesting seminars/tastings, cool souvenirs, and really awesome after-party at Drink and Tavern Row. (I'm sure the rest of the weekend was fun, too, but the one day was a lot. But if I was to do it again I'd consider going for the whole thing and clearing my schedule.)

Got hit by a terrible cold and was down for the count Tuesday, but totally fine again by Thursday. At least it was brief.

On Wednesday, went to see Big Hero 6 at the new Assembly Row theater. Was my first visit to Assembly Row. While it does have that uncanny-valley "mixed-use development" feel, it at least has some good shops and restaurants, a more-luxurious-than-usual cinema, and a shiny new T stop on the Orange Line. (About the movie: It's awesome and you should see it.)

Work is very busy. I'll be in a new office next week (moving up two floors). Lots of people in the Cambridge office are shuffling to keep teams in proximity as the office continues to grow. It's a bit chaotic.

Tomorrow, I have some complimentary tickets (courtesy of Yelp Boston) to the Drink Craft Beer Fall Fall To Winter Fest.

In a week, I'll be going home for Thanksgiving break.
l33tminion: (Yay!)
This weekend, continued the trend of seeing lots of movies. Saw Guardians of the Galaxy (fun) and saw The Congress with Film Club (I loved it, but many in the group didn't like it at all).

Feeling a little stressed about performance reviews at work, where both the upside and the downside is that I'm not going up for promotion again yet. I feel like I understand what I need to do at work better than before, though, and this week got off to a good start.
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.
l33tminion: (L33t)
Fun things from this week:

Saw Snowpiercer at the Brattle. "Hunger Games"-on-a-train by way of the cinematographic conventions of Korean action movies. Good stuff if you're willing to take your sci-fi more than a bit absurdist.

Julie took me to Giulia for my birthday, an amazing meal.

I went to the Union Square Farmers Market this weekend and did a bit of cooking. Steamed carrots, long red Florence onions, and baby kohlrabi with fresh sage. Sauteed rainbow chard and various other exotic greens with lemon. Made a salad with cucumber and red sorrel. Bought a loaf of pain d'epi (a pretty baguette variation I hadn't seen before) and served it with Fiore de Nonno burrata. All very good.

I got in a bit of biking yesterday, and today I took Hubway everywhere and biked about 14 miles.

At work a big project is being slow to warm up, but I've been putting in a lot of effort to make documentation improvements that I didn't have enough time to get to this past quarter. Feels good to finally get to that.
l33tminion: (L33t)
I haven't been as exhausted this week as when I made that last post, but still haven't found the wherewithal to write more frequently. Still tired, work is still busy. But enjoying various social activities, and cooking continues to be fun. Winter vegetables from our vegetable box plus scrambled eggs has made for some great breakfasts.

I'll just talk about a few bits of media I've enjoyed recently:

Robocop: Saw this one with Film Club. I enjoyed it. I'm glad the film wasn't just the original with better graphics, this one was about as different as it could be while having basically the same plot (the new one is played straight, the original is more satirical).

The Lego Movie: It's (appropriately enough) awesome, the music is catchy, the animation is brilliant, the story is fun, and it really captures the zeitgeist of Lego (that is to say, the crazy intersection between the kind of somewhat-incoherent narrative play kids do with Lego-the-toys and the kind of somewhat-incoherent toy-centered multimedia world-building done by Lego-the-company). If you like animated films or Lego you should definitely see it, and it's worth catching on the big screen. (Some of the trailers don't do it justice, disregard those and just see the movie.)

The Last of Us: Finally finished playing through the main story of this game, and it deserves the critical acclaim it received. Recommended if you like stealth-action video games or post-apocalyptic fiction. The score and art direction are excellent, the game mechanics are interesting and work well with the story. When Melissa visited, she commented on the particularly effective fight direction in the game. It really is one of the more remarkable elements. A lot of action games have very swashbuckling action-movie-y violence, but the combat in The Last of Us seems brutal, creepy, and unsettling, which really underlines the horrific elements of the setting and the moral ambiguity (to say the least) of the protagonist.
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: (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: (L33t)
A brief movie review, left out from my last post:

I saw The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey with Film Club last weekend and enjoyed it. Not sure if the higher frame-rate adds anything, though the stereoscopic 3D is striking (if oddly flat in the middle distance; though I'm not sure I see stereoscopic 3D the same as other people, my depth perception is pretty weak). I can see why the movie gets such mixed reviews, though. It's clearly done with a great deal of love for the source material (he even includes the songs!). Making that book into a trilogy of three-hour movies is a bit absurd, but the reason for that is obvious (for the studios, a trilogy is almost guaranteed to make more money; for Jackson, he's presumably still sad about all the material that had to be cut to squeeze The Lord of the Rings into ~9 hours). The action sequences are pretty over-the-top in kind of a cartoonish way, much of the humor is (aptly) pretty children's-book-y. But the setting is beautiful and evocative, and the dramatic scenes (especially Bilbo's encounter with Gollum) are very well done. Martin Freeman does a great job in the starring role, and Ian McKellan and Andy Serkis reprise great performances.
l33tminion: (Conga!)
On Sunday, I saw Looper with Film Club. Thought it was a great, well-constructed story, an enjoyable sci-fi film. A must-see if you love time-travel stories.

I've been watching some of the new Avatar series. It's pretty great, but maybe doesn't live up to the original. Some aspects of the show are more ambitious, but the pacing is a bit off, and it gets really rushed towards the end of the first season (in large part because they'd originally planned a one-season mini-series, allowing for more only mid-way through). Certainly looking forward to wrapping up this season and watching the following ones, though. (Obligatory Overthinking It essay link.)

Work is busy, but going well.

Julie's folks were in town this past weekend, so that was cool.

Many good things impend.
l33tminion: (Slacker Revolt)
This weekend was long and quiet. I did a lot of house-cleaning, got a haircut, played some boardgames, saw a movie (Robot & Frank; I thought it was good, a great execution on the premise), played video games, and drank tea. Nice to unwind.
l33tminion: (Rock!)
This weekend, saw several films from the Brattle's repertory series "Nicholas Cage: Greatest American Actor", a double-feature of Con Air and Ghost Ride: Spirit of Vengeance and a showing of Face/Off. All far more enjoyable than they should be. I enjoyed all three (though I'd only really recommend Con Air, which is a rather brilliant send-up of its genre with an all-star cast).

In broader news, the latest economic trainwreck remains unexploded, but [livejournal.com profile] bradhicks's take is most interesting.
l33tminion: (Default)
(If alcohol is involved, possibly the other way around?)

At any rate, I saw Prometheus Sunday evening, and it was a pretty bad movie. (Alternately, "A pretty, bad movie.")

It is indeed pretty (mostly). And the symbolism is pretty great.

It's just that the characters are so stupid and poorly characterized (with the notable exception of David/Fassbender), in a way that really ruins it as that sort of monster-horror film. What makes such a film interesting, I think, is that eventually characters become aware of the monster, and then start trying to do smart things (which in practice may in fact be dumb but are interestingly in-character) to defeat or escape the monster, with mixed success. Even if convention demands certain ultimate outcomes, particular encounters with the monster may still be in doubt. Except in Prometheus, they never are. Characters are either incredibly dumb for no reason (mysterious alien organism, let's poke it!), or smart but self-sacrificing, or wearing the designated survivor sign from way too early on.

It's fine, and probably more-or-less worth seeing if you're a fan of the Alien series. But no big deal if you miss it.
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