Summer passed by really quickly this year, especially because we didn’t really take a vacation (ok we were in Boston for a few days at the beginning, but that was short). I felt like we didn’t end up doing much because we mostly stayed in the city and didn’t do many road trips. I guess we spent a lot of the time at run-of-the-mill festivals around the city, and went to Wonderland every other week (probably up to 8 trips this year).
But with the end of the month, we’re winding down and getting ready for the school year again. Yet again, both boys are starting new schools which means new routines and schedules. In fact, August was a new schedule too as Jovian stopped going to daycare and went to camp with Apollo (different class though). At least Katana didn’t have much change. She’s still starting on solids (cereal) and hasn’t graduated to other fruits and mashed foods yet. She’s more mobile now (rolling and rotating), but hasn’t figured out how to crawl yet.
The weather started getting colder halfway through the month (kids had to wear long sleeves to school) and it looks like things might stay that way. I was expecting to do some work travel this month, but the trips got cancelled/moved. However, I did end up dealing with a HDD crash at the end of the month and restoring all my data from backups/broken drive.
I hardly use Twitter anymore, and I’ve noticed that I’m starting to get the same way with Facebook. I know why I don’t use Twitter anymore, and that’s because there’s too much garbage in my Twitter feed (RTs and what not that the people I follow care about, but I don’t). In the past, I even specifically stopped following people because they post too much. Later, Twitter went to an algorithmic feed to help create a feed of things
I Twitter thinks I care about, but you know, I don’t really care about that so I stopped using it.
To me, the Facebook News Feed is following the same path. When the News Feed came out, there was a lot of content posted from the people I follow. That was interesting! Sure, sometimes the feed was sparse, because people weren’t posting anything about their lives, but I was OK with that.
Now, the News Feed surfaces all sorts of random stuff. I’m not talking just about ads – I mean it’s surfacing things that my friends may have liked (about random people who I have never heard of before). That is not interesting and it is just noise. I also dislike the algorithmic feed as it is not by recency and I have a FOMO of things that my friends have posted. So I’m back to using a polluted “most recent” list.
But you know, I don’t actually get a lot of value out of that News Feed feed anymore. I still have to use it because there’s no alternative, but it’s actually pretty crappy!
I’ve been thinking recently that you can measure your life in groups of 6, and that your multiple-of-6 birthdays are significant. I don’t have a good term for them but the ages 6, 12, 18, 24, 30, 36 …? are milestones in the sense that you have “matured” from your previous years.
At age 6, you’ve learned all the basics about being a human. You know, walking, eating, talking. At age 12, you’ve mastered being a kid and going to school. At age 18, you’ve mastered being a teenager which is actually quite a feat. When you’re 24, you should have mastered how to live and take on the world on your own (rather than being sheltered by your parents). At 30, you should be well on your way at making a living, married, and contributing to society. Finally at 36, you should be a capable parent and used to taking care of kids.
Obviously, these metrics are more reflective of me than general society but it is almost uncanny how multiples of 6 years line up with these tiers. At age 42, I can take a look to see what the next 6 years will help me master.
We started off summer with a quick vacation down to Boston. We had been debating where to go for the Canada Day/July 4th long weekend for a long time now. I did want to goto Ottawa at some point this year, but it would probably have been too crazy with the 150th birthday and 3 kids. So we decided to goto Boston for a few days. This ended up being Katana’s first bus, subway, boat, airplane and train ride of her life – much like how Apollo went through the same thing when he was about 6 months old.
We did the usual summer stuff in July. No programs so Saturday and Sunday mornings were free. We did a couple of trips to Wonderland and started going to farms at the end of the month. I flew down to NYC for a couple of days closer to the end of the month as well. After weird weather in previous months, the weather has been like you would expect in summer.
Katana is more than 4 months old now so she started eating solids. The first week was a mess, but once she got the hang of swallowing, it’s a breeze to feed her (10-15 mins max). She can also roll over both ways and has a lot of fun with toys. But I think her favorite activity is still to play with her brothers!
I actually saw Cars 3 in June (and in theatres) but forgot to blog about it till now. It’s way down in my priority list because it wasn’t something I wanted to see, but something I took the kids too (I’m not sure they really wanted to see it either).
I was looking for a kids movie to watch in theatres and this was the best option. The boys like Lightning McQueen, and even though this was the third installment, it didn’t seem to get the Finding Dory treatment and get older and scarier. It was still rated G and from other reviews it seemed fairly safe. Of course, shortly into the movie, McQueen has a huge crash and freaked out the kids for the rest of the time.
Overall, the movie gets a 3 out of 5 stars from me. Being a Pixar movie, it is expected that adults will find it interesting, and the movie didn’t feel dumbed down; although it wasn’t particularly exciting or a strong story (I may have missed a lot of context as I didn’t watch the first two movies). There was another strong female heroine which, while positive, is getting a little overplayed. In turn, the male protagonists are now goofballs.
Card Thief is the “sequel” to Card Crawl. It’s a sequel in the sense that the art style is almost completely the same, but the gameplay is similar, but the story is a bit different. In this one, you play a thief and you have to solve consecutive 9×9 puzzles to get as much loot as possible (i.e., solitaire game). Again you have to play through an entire deck of cards, and ultimately the game is about optimizing the order of the cards in your deck and on the play field for the most points. In isolation, this game and its story makes it more interesting than your generic puzzle game, but it’s not compelling enough for repeat playback.
I bought Mini Metro on a whim as it was on sale ($1.29). This puzzle game is pretty abstract and really they could have made it about anything. They chose to make it about linking a city via subway lines. I like the design as it is minimalistic and the gameplay is pretty fun in the short time that I’ve played. The touch controls are pretty finicky once the play area gets complicated (it’s easy to move the wrong line, so I need to pause before making changes) and the difficulty seems to ramp up pretty quickly. Decent investment for the price.
Well the last blog I made was the recap for May, and now it is June. I guess I didn’t blog at all in June.
It wasn’t all that busy, but I didn’t do anything noteworthy like travel though (so no chance to watch movies or anything). I did play some Hearthstone so is it surprising that I didn’t blog about it this month? Maybe I got stuck on a boss and couldn’t blog my progress? Nah, it was because I wasn’t playing PvE at all. Blizzard changed its rules and you can now finish quests against “friends” so I basically spent time to complete all my quests. I’m glad there’s a new way to accumulate gold but it’s still very difficult to get Epics and Legendaries.
June saw the wrap up of existing extra curricular programs and the school year. We started transitioning to summer schedule and new programs. My mom was in Vancouver for a family reunion for two weeks and we started skating again (once summer started??). We also started planning for a couple of vacations in the summer and later this year.
There was a lot of rain in June, which was unexpected and not normal. Lots of summer thunderstorms and just general overcast and cloudy weather. The temperature was warm enough for shorts for a couple of days, but it was back to long sleeves and long pants by the end of the month!
May finished really quickly. That means that Katana is almost 3 months old! She can now “chat” with us and turn her head to look around at all sorts of interesting things. Still sleeps a lot though. May ending means that June is on us, which means summer vacation is only one month away! Where the school year go?
I traveled down to Mountain View this month for work, although it wasn’t directly for work as I went to Google I/O instead. I’ve tried to get tickets for a few years but this year I was finally picked! It was interesting to visit and hear about all the new Google stuff that’s released this year. If I didn’t go to Google I/O, I would have gone to Korea instead, but fortunately they happened on the same week so I didn’t have to travel for half the month.
California was hot the last day I was there (30°C) and so was Toronto, but the rest of the month was mostly rain. The trees have budded and most are full with leaves, yet the rain keeps on coming. The Toronto Islands and some parts inland are flooding due to the accumulation of water – I don’t think you’re allowed to go to Centre Island until July at the earliest!
While we didn’t get a lot of time to go out and walk around in the neighborhood after dinner, we’ve started doing more outdoor activities and packing the weekend. This month we went to Wonderland for the first time this year, Doors Open, and the York Region Police picnic.
After a few easy battles, Chromaggus took awhile longer. He has a solid dragon-based deck, but that in itself is not OP. He also starts with 60 health, which is a bit unfair, but there seems to be a bug where he always plays Alexstrasza when you are below 15 and actually heals you! What’s unfair is that every turn he adds a card into your hand that benefits him, either his spells/minions cost 3 less, or heals him for 6, or deals you 3 damage, or gives him double of each card he draws. These cards take 3 mana to get rid of so in essence you are always 3 mana behind against a strong deck.
It took me many battles (~50) but I finally beat him with a mill deck. It is by no means better than Chromaggus so it requires some luck to play into the right conditions to win. Here’s the decklist:
- Earthen Scales
- Jade Idol
- 2x Mistress of Mixtures
- 2x Naturalize
- 2x Zombie Chow
- 2x Stubborn Gastropod
- 2x Youthful Brewmaster
- Brann Bronzebeard
- 2x Coldlight Oracle
- 2x Dancing Swords
- 2x Deathlord
- 2x Emperor Cobra
- 2x Feral Rage
- 2x Goblin Sapper
- 2x Grove Tender
- 2x Poison Seeds
In the early game, play the Zombie Chows, Mistresses, and Gastropods to take out the low level minions. Then start milling. Earthen Scales (with Goblin Sapper) and the Feral Rages are to heal 25 (plus whatever you get from Alex). Poison Seeds and Deathwing are the only board clears, and I found I needed all of them because I couldn’t catch up to the strong dragon board. The timing of Deathwing is also important as it allows you to get rid of all of his hero power cards in one go. In my winning game, I got it at the end (he was in fatigue) and I had been holding several double/healing cards since his hand was stuck at 10 cards – it ended up killing Alex and Ysera (Onyxia was done in by poison seeds). Finally, the one Jade Idol is to help you grow your deck and prevent milling yourself.
If you can survive his deck, then it’s an easy win!
I never heard about the movie Passengers until I saw people watching it over a few flights. It turns out that I enjoyed this movie a lot.
The main reason is because it is a classic sci-fi movie. It happens in the near future, where humans have reliable space travel and colonization. A ship with over 5000 colonists and crew are travelling 120 years in a sub-light ship to a new world. The trip is mostly on auto-pilot and everyone is in hibernation. Except, an asteroid field causes one hibernation unit to fail and awaken its inhabitant. This happens about a quarter of the way into the trip so he’s destined to not just live out his life and die of old age on the ship, but to do so alone.
The movie portrays him as he goes through a variety of stages – from denial to despair, to making the most of it, to finally trying to decide whether he should forcibly wake up another traveler (spoiler: he does!). Then the cycle happens again with the newly awaken.
I think the idea is fascinating – to have an entire self-functioning and renewable spaceship at your disposal, at the cost of being alone. I’m glad that the movie spends ample time exploring this idea and developing the characters through that. It is a thought starter and the main reason why I enjoyed this movie.
There are also some external challenges that move the movie along. I wasn’t a big fan but it’s necessary for the movie – it doesn’t detract from it at least. However, I think this movie does what scifi does best – creates an interesting and plausible situation in the future and examine how it would be handled. Because of this, I give it a 4 out of 5.