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Less than two weeks until decision release. Things have actually been going pretty well given 1) the immense amount of change in university leadership and the unanticipated meddling by the new executives and 2) the fact that we've implemented three or four major new processes this year, most of them during the reading cycle.

The proof will come when we release decisions, and then again about a month later when we get to the deposite deadline, and there's still a lot of work to do between now and then, but we've had three smaller releases already this application year, and all of those have gone as expected. My team has also been given permission to hire a new salary line, so that, in combination with backfilling a currently vacant role, should give us a lot more redundancy and ability to evenly distribute work over the summer and heading into next year.

This could be a year of big change in our office as well, which has been mostly untouched by the larger changes in the institution. We have a lot of people who have been with the office for a long time (I've been here almost five years, and I'd say that about half the office has been here longer than I have), and depending on who they choose to fill the permanent roles for the leadership positions that oversee our office, we could have a larger than usual number of folks decide to test the market and get better offers elsewhere.

But I'll worry about that in a few months. Right now we just have to get through the next few weeks.

Another thing Will has gotten more adventurous about (in addition to hiw willingness to try new foods, particularly spicy foods) is the movies he's willing to watch on our Friday night movie nights. We were trapped in animated movie land forever, and although there are a lot more quality offerings in that area than there used to be, we were running out of new content and were repeating the same movies over and over.

But we finally got him to watch the first Harry Potter movie, and that eventually led to move live action movies getting into the mix. And then a couple of months ago, he saw five minutes of Back to the Future and got very interested in seeing that, which kicked off a sustained interest in 80s movies: all three Back to the Future movies, the Goonies, WarGames, and most recently, Short Circuit, which might be his favorite (and which I didn't realize until recently was directed by the same guy who directed WarGames, who was also the director of Saturday Night Fever).

We still watch the occasional animated film too, but mostly new releases that we haven't seen in the theaters, and there are a few more 80s classics that he might be ready for: Indiana Jones, Beetlejuice, and the Bill and Ted movies, to name a few. It's funny to see which ones really capture his imagination—I was pretty sure he was going to love Short Circuit (he loves robots, especially nice ones with anthropomorphic qualities), but Back to the Future was a little bit of a surprise to me.

It might be time to revisit the Star Wars series as well—he saw it first when he was just barely five years old and they were really the first live-action movies he'd seen, but he's almost seven now, and those intervening 18 months will probably make a big difference in how engaged he gets with them.

"These are the stupidest pants I've ever weared!"

Yelled angrily by my son last night as he struggled out of a pair of probably-a-little-too-small-for-him pants while getting ready for bed last night.

On Sunday night while Will went to dinner with Julie and my mom, I was attending the inaugural game of the inaugural season of Atlanta's first Major League Soccer team, Atlanta United. I've tried to get into it over the years by watching the Premiere League, but I'm not a huge soccer fan. But two of my friends are big fans, and so when one of them got an early place on the season ticket selection list, we decided to all buy seats together through him—two tickets each for my friends and one ticket for me, so a block of five seats altogether.

They were originally scheduled to play all of their games in the new Mercedes-Benz stadium where the Falcons will start playing next season, but that project is a little behind schedule, so all the games through July will be played at Georgia Tech's football field. It's not quite as accessible via Marta as the new stadium will be, just becase we have to change lines from where we leave from (while the new stadium is right on our line), but there's still a stop that's only about a ten minute walk from the Georgia Tech field, so that's not too bad.

The game was at 7:30, so we all met at the Marta station at around 5:30. It wasn't too crowded at the more outlying station where we got on, but there were plenty of people with Atlanta United gear on who were clearly going to the game as well, and the crowds (and percentage of people wearing gear) increased the closer we got to the stadium stop, especially at the transfer station where all the lines in the city meet.

The stadium was packed—the first-game crowd was at the 55,000 person capacity of the stadium, and it was impossible to think about food/drink or bathrooms without a significant wait. We had great seats—for season ticket holders, they tried to make your vantage point in the Georgia Tech stadium mimic as closely as possible the view you'll have in the soon-to-be-opened stadium, so we were on the first row of the second deck at midfield, which was a great vantage point—very easy to see the whole field and really keep up with the ebb and flow of the game.

People were really, really into it, cheering and clapping (and yelling and cursing) for great plays/sequences or bad calls, and the game went by so quick. This is my first time watching professional soccer, and I am sold on this experience—it reminded me a lot of watching hockey in person, where everyone around you is an expert on the nuances of the game and is completely into the action. It's a very different experience than watching it on television, alone on your couch and generally uninformed about the finer points of the gameplay.

They have supposedly sold about 30,000 season tickets for this opening season, and they are closing off a lot of the Georgia Tech stadium for the remaining games there, so the seats that are in use for those games should still be pretty full. And even though it was cool to see 55,000 people out in force to support the team, 30,000 people is nothing to sneeze at, especially given the fickle and fair-weather nature of fans in this town.

Atlanta United scored the first goal, but they ultimately ended up losing 2-1. Our keeper just wasn't performing that well, and when the New York team started to get more consistent time around our goal in the second half, he just couldn't hold them at bay. Still, everyone was pretty excited about the turnout and the fact that they didn't get clobbered 5-1 like the other expansion team did in their opening game, but we'll see if that enthusiasm persists after a full season of losing. I can tell you something though: I've been a Braves fan for decades, but I'm much more excited about supporting this new team and their likely-terrible inaugural year than I am in going to see the Braves at a brand new, completely unnecessary stadium that's not even in the city of Atlanta.

As expected, it was a busy weekend with my mom. On Saturday, she went with Will to the Fernbank museum for the afternoon and then we met my sister and her husband for dinner at a new Cuban place (our second time there, and another example of Will's recent openess to new cuisines).

On Sunday they went up to Will's school to practice bike riding in the parking lot. Later that afternoon Will and my mom put on a Will-directed puppet and music show for me and Julie, and then Julie, Will, and my mom went out to dinner together.

She stayed to say goodbye to him this morning, but she'll be gone by the time he gets home from school. We've got a busy travel schedule between now and June—three out of town family trips and probably a couple of conferences for me—but hopefully we'll find time to host her again or go see her before she comes for his birthday in July.

My mom is coming for a visit this weekend, which is always great for Will—they really enjoy hanging out with each other. Even though he loves all of his grandparents equally (they are all very different), she's the goofiest and the most willing to do his imaginary play with him. She's been at my sister's house the last couple of days, but she'll come tonight to do movie night with us and then stay through Monday, so Will will have plenty of time with her.

Will has gotten much more adventurous about spicy foods over the past couple of months, which, as a lover of spicy foods who didn't eat anything even remotely hot until I was in my 20s, really warms my heart. It started with sriracha, which I would put in little dots on his chicken nuggets, which has since expanded to sriracha on pizza, etc.

Then we tried jalapenos, which he took to immediately, and more typical hot sauces like Frank's Red Hot, which he also liked on things like tacos. He's also been getting jalapenos and the creamy sriracha sauce on his Subway sandwiches, and getting the spicy mayo (similar to the creamy sriracha sauce) on his food at a nearby Korean place called Bull Gogi. And when we went to a local arepas place for dinner over the weekend, he slathered his with their milder (milder being a very relative term) thai chili sauce, but he still tasted the very, very hot habanero sauce.

I was a very timid eater for a very long time, and as much as I love food of all types now, I can't help but think of the two decades of wasted opportunities that passed before the culinary would really started to open up my horizons. I'm beyond thrilled that it doesn't look like this will be the case for Will—by the time he leaves our home, I hope he's as educated and experienced with global cuisines as we are, and that he'll take that with him and make that part of how experiences the wider world when he makes his own way into it.

Today is Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent, and for some reason Will has really latched onto the idea of giviing something up this year. We haven't pushed that on him—I used to be more intentional about doing this each year, but I can't remember the last time I (or Julie) consciously gave something up. It might be ten years or more—well before he was actually born.

And here's what decided to give up: Minecraft videos on YouTube. For those of you who live a blessed enough existence not to be aware of this corner of the internet, there are a lot of people who make quite a bit of money by playing video games and recording their exploits while talking over them (seriously, talk to any person under age 12 and they are almost certain to know what you're talking about and be fans).

Without fail, they have annoying voices and talk way too loud, and Will's favorites are Pat and Jen, a married couple who play new Minecraft maps and talk to each other as they explore them together. We put a limit on how much he could watch these during his already-limited windows of screen time throughout the day, and he would often save them for his snacktime because he treasures them so much and that's when he's generally watching tv without any other distractions.

All that to say that this really is a pretty big deal for him to be giving up, and although I'm not sure he's going to be able to make it the whole 40 days, I really have to give him credit for being willing to give up something that's really important to him, and not something that would technically be giving something up but which wouldn't be nearly as hard.

In solidarity, Julie and I are both giving something up as well, Julie her morning treat of sweetened coffee milk (a much cheaper version of a Starbucks frappuccino), and me something that I'm not ready to name because I'm not sure if I'll be able to do mine for 40 days either.

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