august 2016

When I got in the shower on Saturday morning, I noticed that the water did not get as hot as usual, and it also got cooler as the shower went on. I asked Julie if she was running the dishwasher, clothes washer, etc., but she wasn't, so when I went down to investigate the hot water heater, I discovered that the pilot light had gone out.

I followed the instructions on the side and attempted to relight it, and while I could get it to light, as soon as I tried to switch it from lighting mode to on mode, the pilot would go out again, no matter how long I let it burn in pilot mode. Some YouTube videos led me to believe that something was wrong with the thermocouple, and that while I could probably repair it myself if I had the right part, it would void the warranty and I would be better off letting a professional do it.

On Sunday we called a service we had used before and scheduled an appointment for first thing this morning hoping it would not be a big deal to fix (the person who made the appointment also surmised that it was the thermocouple and had me text them a picture with the model and serial number so they could make sure to have the right parts on the truck).

The repairman showed up right at 9, and it only took him about 10 minutes to decide that it was indeed the thermocouple, but he didn't have the parts on the truck. He left, telling us that he would call us back when they had located the part he needed so he could come back and do the repair, but we didn't hear from him or the company the rest of the day, which I assume means they're having trouble locating the part.

I assume we're going to get a new timeline/appointment tomorrow morning, but in the meantime, I'm on my second cold shower, and let me tell you that for people used to hot showers, there are few less pleasant experiences to have to incoporate into your daily routine. But hopefully it's very temporary and everything will be back to normal by tomorrow.

My mom is still trying to figure out what's going on with the pain in her back, and she's still out at my sister's house, so on Saturday we all went out to spend the afternoon swimming in her pool before having dinner together. Will's swimming is getting better every time we go out there—he swam without his floaties for the first time earlier this summer, and this past weekend he got really good at putting his head underwater while swimming and only lifting it up to take a quick breath.

For dinner, Will helped my mom and my sister make fried chicken while I took a nap in a rocking chair on the front porch. Will and I are both the same when it comes to the water—we get in the pool as soon as we get there and we don't get out until we're forced to (except to use the bathroom of course), even if we're there for several hours. The difference is that after a few hours of swimming, Will still has the energy to hop right into the kitchen and help out with dinner while I'm completely exhausted.

After dinner as we were getting ready to leave, we noticed a strange car had pulled into my sister's driveway and a man I didn't recognize was pacing around while talking on his cell phone. My brother-in-law went out to talk to him, and it turns out that he was the husband of my sister's neighbor and they had just separated the week before. The wife had taken out a restraining order and the man chose to interpret it very literally—since he wasn't allowed on the property, he figured he would just park at the closest house (my sister's) and yell across the yard at his wife.

Which wasn't super smart. She immediatley called the police, who showed up and parked at the bottom of my sister's driveway, blocking the husband's car in—and also blocking us in. And then Mr. Genius really kicked into high gear: when the cop pulled a taser on him in order to arrest him for violating the restraining order, he took off into the woods, and the cop chased after him, leaving us blocked in with no idea when the chase would end and the cop would come back to move his car.

When it became clear that this was going to be an extended pursuit, we decided to drive our car across the lawn to the neighbor's driveway and get down to the street that way (my sister has a very steep yard with trees and a pretty deep drainage ditch at the bottom in between her lawn and the road, so the driveway really is pretty much the only way to get out). So we got out without too much trouble, and now we have a pretty unusual story to remember the afternoon by.

We decided not to put Will into camp this final week before school, and each of us is taking a couple of days off to hang out with him. Tuesday was one of my days, and although I had to work in the morning and the early afternoon (allowing him to binge on Phineas and Ferb, his current favorite show) I did take him out for a special suprise before the end of the day: mini golf.

We went to a pirate-themed course outside the perimeter that we've been to a few times before, and he loved it just as much as he always has. And he's actually getting better, even though he's very inconsistent about getting into a stance and lining up the putter correctly—he even beat me on two or three holes. And there was almost no one else on the course, so we felt like we had the whole place to ourselves.

It started to rain just as we were finishing up, which worked out perfectly (I actually got a hole in one on the final hole even though I was rushing to finish so we could get out of the rain that was rapidly increasing in intensity). When we got home, I wanted Will to have some play time in his room so I could finish up some work stuff, and when I came up to check on him 45 minutes later, he was dead asleep on his bed, and he didn't move a muscle until Julie got home close to 7. That's always a sign of a good day for him, so we fixed him a quick dinner and let him go back to sleep after a truncated bedtime routine.

So: the hot water heater. The repair company called me back on Tuesday morning tell me that they had been unable to locate the part anywhere in Atlanta (which is strange, because it's a five year old water heater from a major manufacturer), so they called the manufacturer directly to order a replacement part, and since the hot water heater was still under warranty, the part would be free but it would be shipped directly to us. We were supposed to wait for the part to arrive—no later than Thursday, but possibly as soon as Tuesday—and then call them to schedule the repair.

Because I didn't have a tracking number or anything, I called the manufacturer (GE) directly to find out what was going on, and they confirmed that as of Tuesday afternoon, the order had been processed and would ship out that day and I could call back the next morning to get a tracking number. So I did that...and was told the exact same thing: the part had not been processed the day before (Tuesday), but it was being processed today (Wednesday) and would ship out via overnight shipping so it would still hopefully get there by Thursday.

And what was I told when I called today to get a tracking number and a delivery date so I could schedule the repairman? THE EXACT SAME THING: the part was being processed today (Thursday) and would ship out overnight shipping for delivery tomorrow (Friday). Which was, to say the least, a little frustrating, especially given how many cold showers Julie and I have had to endure this week.

Fortunately, when I called back tonight after 6, they actually did have a tracking number for me, and the FedEx site said that not only was it scheduled for delivery tomorrow, but that it was supposed to be delivered by 10:30 a.m., which means there's still a chance we could get this all fixed up by tomorrow. Fingers crossed, because I don't know how much more cold water to start my day I can take. I'm a fairly surly person first thing in the morning anyway, but after a few days of cold showers, I'm verging on becoming a monster.

Yesterday Julie and I both took the day completely off to do one final fun day together as a family this summer before Will goes back to school: we took him for his inaugural visit to a real amusement park, Six Flags Over Georgia.

At some point last year they had a book reading challenge at school, and anyone who did the challenge got a certificate with a tear-off portion that gave them entry to Six Flags. Will has been talking about it all summer, and while we always intended to take him, it wasn't until a week or so ago that we realized that time was running out to use it (you can't use it on the weekends, and we weren't going to take him out of school for a day to do it).

We got there around 11, and I figured with the oppressive heat and the constant walking that we'd have lunch before 1 and be on our way home no later than 3—Will's never had great stamina in hot weather, and he's far too big for us to carry around any more, so the duration of outings like this is completely contingent on his willpower and desire to keep walking and doing things.

But boy was I wrong: we were there until the park closed at 7, and there wasn't one complaint about the heat or the walking all day except when we were walking to and from the parking lot. And he would have stayed later if he could have—the train that runs around the park was the last thing we did, and we were on it for the final circuit of the day. We rode everything that he could ride at least twice (except for the really big wooden roller coaster, which he didn't like because it rattled you around too much), including a flying swings ride that when 240 feet in the air. He is absolutely fearless about this stuff, and he was very disappointed that he wasn't yet tall enough to ride the roller coasters that went upside down.

We hadn't been to this particular Six Flags park before either, and it wasn't too bad. Out of solidarity with Will, I didn't ride any of the coasters he couldn't ride either, so I don't have a review of most of the stuff in the park, but even though it was brutally hot (we bought an infinite refills cup for $16 for the three of us to share, and I can tell you for sure that they lost money on us—it felt like we refilled every half hour to stay hydrated, and Will still only needed to use the bathroom twice in eight hours), it was a fun day, mostly because Will was having so much fun.

I was disappointed that two of the major attractions were closed (the skyline gondola thing and the lazy river tubing ride), but we did just about every ride in the park that Will was big enough for (except for the stuff that was clearly for really little kids), and we more than got our money's worth with the tickets as well. I know we'll be going back at some point, and hopefully by then Will will have grown those last couple of inches that he needs to go on about half of the coasters that were off limits to him this time.

I'm as tired of writing about the saga with the hot water heater as I'm sure you are of reading about it, but it's over now, so I just wanted to fill you in on the conclusion. The part did indeed arrive on Friday morning, and we were able to make an appointment to have the repair performed sometime between 2-5 Friday afternoon.

But 5:00 came and went with no call from the company, so I called them to make sure we were still on. They told us that the repairman was on the way and would be there in another half hour. That didn't happen, either, but he did show up around 7, and by 7:30 the repair was complete and our water was starting to heat back up.

I managed to wait until around 8:30 before taking a shower—I wanted to make sure it was good and hot, even though the repairman said it would only take about 45 minutes to fully heat the water. It was such a relief to have hot water back—that was the longest in my life that I've gone without taking a hot shower, and I didn't realize how much difference it makes in your attitude for the day. I'm still not pleasant in the mornings, but I'm much more tolerable than I was those last couple of days while we were waiting for the part to be delivered.

Our long domestic nightmare is over. The part needed to repair our hot water heater finally arrived on Friday morning, and although we had to wait until around 7 that evening for the repairman arrive and fix it (which took him about ten minutes), we finally had hot water back.

I'd like not to do that again any time soon. I'm still not the best person to be around in the mornings, but I guarantee you I'm much more tolerable after a hot shower than I was after a week of taking cold ones.

My mom was still staying out at my sister's on this past weekend, so for the third week in a row we headed out on Saturday afternoon to go swimming and hang out with my mom. Will continues to improve with his swimming; he hasn't used his floaties at all in the past month and we didn't even bring them with us this time.

After we finished swimming, we went out to dinner at a Mellow Mushroom about halfway between our house and my sister's, and that's where we said goodbye to my mom, who hadn't been home in a month at that point. She rested on Sunday, then worked up the stamina to muscle through her pain and make the six hour drive home so she could make a Tuesday appointment with her local doctor.

I'm worried about what this might actually be because, despite what seems like half a dozen CT scans, x-rays, and MRIs at this point, she seems to get a different diagnosis and treatment plan from each doctor she sees. The physical therapy that my sister's doctor had her doing helped in terms of her mobility, but she said it didn't help with the pain much at all, and for now her doctor is telling her not to move around too much and not recommending physical therapy until they have a chance to do yet another MRI for comparison purposes.

As much as she likes visiting her children and grandchild, I know she's happy to be back in her own home, and her brother and his wife live near her to help out if she needs them. I hope she gets this figured out soon—she's pretty tough, but a month straight of pretty intense back pain is going to start having longer term effects if they can't find some way to relieve her symptoms soon.

I went to see Star Trek Beyond last week, and I think it might be my favorite of the films set in J.J. Abrams rebooted universe. The original reboot was good, but it had so much old mythology hanging over it and spent so much time finding ways to erase that mythology that it can still be a little ponderous. The second one was everything that was terrible about the original magnified by ten, with the added burden of trying to redo the most memorable film in the entire Star Trek canon and failing miserably.

This one (the first not directed by Abrams although he remains the producer) didn't spend an undo amount of time going back to revisit the universe that Abrams wiped out in the first one and bring us an alternate story from an alternate timeline. Instead, we get the crew of the Enterprise on the five year mission that was documented in the original television series, and if I'm not mistaken, it's cleverly set far enough into that five year mission that it's taking place after the show was canceled—in other words, even if this was the same universe (which it's not), this still would have been outside the tv/film canon, because that period of the Enterprise's history was never produced due to the premature canceling of the show.

The villain isn't particularly memorable—another typical Star Trek baddie who wants to destroy the human race for reasons of vengeance that are revealed as the story unspools—but the visuals are great, especially of the gigantic Yorktown space station, and there are some nice action set pieces (and a great callback to the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" which was featured prominently in the opening segment of the first reboot).

It still had moments of heavier-than-necessary melodrama, but overall it was a lot more fun than the previous two, likely owing to the screenplay being cowritten by Simon Pegg (who stars as this universe's version of Scotty, but who has written and starred in comedies like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz). They also explore non-traditional crew pairings that work really well, like Uhura and Sulu, Kirk and Chekov, and most notably, Bones and Spock, and introduce a major non-crew role fairly seemlessly into the story, which adds a little variety simply because we don't know what to expect from her.

I'm curious to see if it holds up after repeat viewings, and I'll likely get a chance to figure that out relatively soon—my wife also wants to see the movie (I went with a couple of guy friends late one weeknight after all of our respective kids were in bed), so we might have a date night sometime in the next week so she can see it before it leaves theaters.

Will is finishing his first week as a first grader today, and so far it has gone pretty well. His teacher has a reputation of being a bit strict, but that's not necessarily a bad thing for Will, who tends to get easily distracted and who in turn becomes a distraction to others when he can't rein in his talking. But she also seems to be very consistent and communicative, which is something he also really needs.

It's going to be an interesting year at the school. This is the first full year of operation in a brand new facility (they moved the students to this building in late November last year after spending the first few months in a temporary home), and not only do they have a new principal (the other one moved on to a bigger role in another school district), but they are also coping with an influx of about 250 students from another school district that is overcrowding and sending a lot of their students to other schools while they build new capacity for their growing population.

So not only will these students have to deal with the stress of riding the bus for 2-3 miles in Atlanta morning rush hour traffic, which is particulary bad in the Clifton corridor because of all the employees heading to Emory Hospital, Emory University, and the CDC, but they're school lives and their home lives will be disconnected in a way that doesn't often happen in Atlanta, where there are so many neighborhood schools that allow kids to go to school where they live and attend classes with the students they know from their neighborhood. Add on top of this the fact that many of them are ESL students (and there were almost no ESL students in this school last year), and there are some signficant challenges ahead.

But I have no doubt that we will make the best of it as a community, and that all the new students will be welcomed and supported by the families and the staff. About half of Will's class is students who went to school with him last year and half are the students being brought in from the other school, so we'll get to see up close how well the integration is going and do our part to have a good outcome.

This weekend was fairly quite for once—no trips, no parties, no guests—we just did whatever we felt like and for me especially that wasn't a whole lot.

On Friday night Julie had a goodbye party for someone from work, so Will and I went out to get hotdogs at a place called Skip's that supposed to serve Chicago-style dogs. They had the poppy seed buns, and the franks themselves had a nice snap to the casing, but there was something about the interior that texturally didn't feel quite right to me. I also ordered a chili cheese dog with onions, and the chili was not your standard hot dog chili—instead, it was a bland brown mostly made up of beans. But Will loved his, and overall it wasn't too bad, so we'll probably give it another try sometime.

The one errand we tried to run was to get Will his main birthday present from us, a new bike. He's far too big for his old one now (which we got when he turned four), and he's at that awkward stage where he's a little too big for the 16 inch wheels but not quite big enough for a 20 inch bike. Plus, he still needs training wheels, and there are a limited number of 20 inch bikes that can accomodate them since you can't install them if the bike has gears on it.

We went to the same store where we got his bike before, and there was one that looked like it would fit the bill. But while we were hovering over it and waiting for our salesman to return with the training wheels we needed to buy to go with the bike, another salesman came over and let another customer look at it. When he returned, our salesman just kind of stood there and didn't say that we were looking at the bike first, and of course, the other kid an his dad ending up wanting to buy it, so their salesman claimed it because he actually had his hands on it. To add further insult, they even took the training wheels that our salesman had brought out for us! And again, with no commentary or action from our salesman, who then tried to sell us a different bike that wasn't nearly as good a fit for Will as the one we had been looking at.

So we left that store (and I'm not sure if we'll ever go back now) and headed for another one in downtown Decatur, knowing a bit more about what we wanted. They didn't have a lot in stock, but we found one in the catalog that looked like a good fit for Will, and they said they could have it ordered and in the store the next week. Only when he looked on the computer to put in the order, the salesman told us that the company was completely out of stock on the 2016 models and the 2017 models wouldn't be landed in the country for another two months. Another strikeout.

After those two poor experiences, we did further research online, and we think we've found a good option at REI that will hopefully stay in stock until next weekend when we can take a trip out there to try it out. Will wasn't disappointed about this at all, however—part of the deal with getting a new bike is trading in or selling his old one, and he's so attached to it (even though he hasn't been able to ride it in months) that he was more focused on losing that bike than getting a new one. Funny, funny boy.

I am a big fan of the Wachowskis in theory. Like everyone, I loved the Matrix, and although Revolutions was not a great way to end what could have been one of the best sci fi trilogies ever, I thought Reloaded was underrated and didn't get a fair shake just because expectations were so high.

V for Vendetta and Cloud Atlas are films that I can watch over and over again, even though most people have nothing but scorn for Cloud Atlas even (and sometimes especially) if they liked the book, even though I can't imagine a better film adaptation of such a complicated narrative architecture. But I admit that I've never seen Speed Racer because I couldn't even watch the trailer for 30 seconds, and although I still have it in my queue, I've never found the time to watch their Netflix series Sense8.

Their latest film, Jupiter Ascending, started airing on HBO recently, and I really, really wanted to like it: a hard sci fi movie mixing a complex alien society with present-day Earth, it had potential to create another franchise for them if it had been good.

As usual, there were no shortage of marquee actors who wanted to work with them (the little-seen Cloud Atlas featured Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, and Hugh Grant along with Wachowskis stalwart Hugo Weaving) on the film, and major roles were played by Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Sean Bean, and Eddie Redmayne, but it didn't really help, because the story—and often the dialogue itself—just wasn't worth listening to. It also doesn't help that I'm not a huge fan of Tatum or Kunis (although Tatum was better than I expected), but I don't think even my favorite actors could have saved this movie.

It was a visual spectacle, which is something all Wachowski films have in common, and there were certainly moments that were memorable, but all in all, the plot was too full of holes (even for sci fi), and I never felt like there was a real emotional connection between any of the characters, even the ones whose strong emotional connections were supposed to be driving the story. All in all a disappointment, especially because of the missed opportunity to extend the world they built into a franchise of multiple sequels.

I haven't been watching the Olympics this year at all, which is weird. Normally I, like most people, tune in and watch all sorts of sports that I wouldn't otherwise watching, and I care about the medal count, etc., but this year I don't think I've watched more than two minutes at a time as I've been idly flipping through channels.

I'm not quite sure why this is, although some of it could have to do with all the horrendous stories not only about the conditions in Rio and how the Olympics is highly likely to further worsen the political and economic problems in Brazil, and how this is a story that has been repeated over and over with Olympic host cities for years (Rio may end up being worse than Athens in 2004).

The rampant doping scandals don't help either, especially given the cowardice of the IOC in dealing with the Russian athletes, hundreds of whom still ended up competing despite overwhelming evidence that the entire Russian contigent has been participating in a state-supported doping program for years.

I have learned some interesting stuff about the technical aspects of the games from reading many of the dozens of articles related to the Olympics that are published as the games are going on. The most interesting fact: they are perfectly capable of timing swimmers down to the thousandth of a second, thereby eliminating the many ties that happen in that sport, but the allowable tolerances in the construction of swimming pools is a couple of order of magnitudes higher than what could be measured in a thousandth of a second, which would unfairly advantage those swimmers who happened to get the lanes that were a fraction of an inch shorter than the others. Hence the intentional decision to limit measurements to hundreths of a second—because of the variance in lane lengths, this allows two evenly matched swimmers who are swimming in lanes that are slightly different in length to acheive the same time.

But as for the games themselves, I just haven't been engaged. Maybe that will happen next time, or maybe I'm just done with them. We'll see in 2018.

Last night Julie and I went out to the CineBistro in Atlanta to watch the new Star Trek movie. We got Amy, the softball player from Emory, to come over and babysit Will and we headed out as soon as Julie got home from work so we could grab dinner at the theater (you have to be there half an hour before the show starts if you want to order food).

Julie had a fig and brie flatbread appetizer, I got the wagyu beef sliders appetizer, and then we split the crispy brussels sprouts and cauliflower and a bowl of popcorn. My sliders weren't too bad, Julie really liked her flatbread, and the brussels sprouts were some of the best I've had (it's shocking how many places don't know how to properly crisp brussels sprouts, even ones that are billed as crispy).

I saw the movie a couple of weeks ago with a friend, and it wasn't too bad on the second viewing. The parts with Bones and Spock as a duo away from the rest of the crew were fantastic, and I wish Scotty had had a little more screen time (I wonder if, because the actor who plays Scotty was also one of the film's writers, he cut down on his scenes so as not to seem to self-serving to the rest of the cast), but it held up pretty well in my second viewing. The big twist isn't really that surprising or necessary, and the motivations of the villain still aren't very clear, but it was an enjoyable, watchable action flick that just happened to be set in the Star Trek universe.

Well, after our nightmare of an afternoon looking for a new bike for Will, Julie noticed someone selling an 18 inch bike (he was too big for the 16 inch and a little too small for the 20 inch, and neither of the bike shops bothered to inform us that there was such a thing as an 18 inch, probably because they didn't have any in stock) on Nextdoor. So Will and I went and checked it out after I picked him up from school today.

It was blue, and it was a much better fit than any of the 20 inch bikes we looked at in the bike shops, so we bought it without looking at it too long. It doesn't have training wheels, which Will still needs, but Julie thinks we can buy some that will fit it, so we'll probably do that (although the goal here is to have him riding without training wheels as soon as possible).

There aren't any great spaces to practice in our immediate area—our part of the neighborhood is pretty hilly and not suitable for someone trying to learn to balance without falling—but we might be able to figure something out at a nearby park or possibly behind his school.

As much as I'm irritated about the bike shop experiences, this all turned out for the best—we got just educated enough about what Will needs to recognize a good fit on Nextdoor, and we ended up paying about the quarter the price of a new bike.

This weekend was relatively quiet compared to many this summer, but we were still out and about for a lot of it. The big thing on Saturday was the sign up for Cub Scouts at Will's elementary school. It was scheduled from 3-5, so we got there promptly at 3 thinking it was going to be some sort of organized program where, after the sign up process was complete, there would be separate info sessions for the parents and kids, but that didn't really happen. Instead, about 45 minutes into it there was a brief session for the kids in the gym followed by a live animal program with an alligator, a scorpion, and a snake, but there wasn't really anything for the parents.

I was a little grumpy about this at first—if we had known that we didn't need to be there the whole time, we could have just showed up for the animal thing and completed the whole sign up process while Will was in there—but we ended up next to a woman wearing a Davidson t-shirt, so I ended up talking to her quite a bit. Turns out she and her husband had both gone to Davidson and graduated a couple of years ahead of us, so we had some acquaintences in common, and not only does she work at Emory a couple of buildings away from mine, but I've done a Davidson service event with her husband (although it was a pretty big event, so I don't think I spent any one-on-one time with him).

We got Will signed up for a den that's being run by a friend of ours whose son was in Will's kindergarten class last year, so that should be pretty fun. The meetings are on Sunday afternoon, so there will be some occasional conflicts with soccer, but hopefully not too many—the soccer season just isn't that long, and since they switch the times around we theoretically shouldn't have more than two games during the 4:00 time slot that would interfere with scounts.

I've shockingly never seen Taxi Driver, so when I noticed it playing on one of the classic movie channels a couple of weeks ago, I DVR'd it, and I just got around to watching it a couple of days ago.

When watching a film that has gone past classic status to true legendary status, it's easy to have expectations that are way too high to meet once you actually watch it, and I think that was a little bit of the case here—while there were definitely some strong elements to the film (De Niro's performance obviously being one of them), it felt a little disjointed to me, and I never really got a sense of Travis' motivations.

Also: that soundtrack. The whole time I was imagining how much better some of the wordless scenes that prominently featured the saxophone would have been if they had been scored by Atticus Finch, and how that would have transformed the tone of the film for today's office to something more sinister and existential, which I think is what Scorsese was going for (and may have been able to transmit to a contemporary audience with the saxophone).

Given how much attention was given to Jodi Foster's performance and it's notoriety in American history, I was kind of surprised by 1) how little Iris was actually in the film and 2) how shoehorned in her character felt. Her performance was fine, but again, I struggled with understanding her character, and as with the other major female role in the film (Cybil Shepherd's Betsy), she felt like more of a prop than a character with real agency.

It's a fairly prescient film to watch in this particular election season, however—a bloviating politician who becomes the focal point for a unique kind of white male rage that's driven by a supposed yearning for better times, with better times being a coded message for a time when an individual white male had more power than just about every other person with a different gender and/or ethnicity.

That was probably the thing that hooked me the most about this movie: how Travis is a progenitor of so many real incidents of rage at the loss of power, and how many potential Travises is waiting we have showing up at Trump rallies these days. It genuinely frightens me to think about what will happen with all that anger when their candidate loses badly in a few months, especially given that Trump and the right wing media are already fueling conspiracies about the election being stolen.

Best extension for Chrome that I've found in a long time: The Great Suspender, which gives you options to have your Chome tabs go into hibernation so they're not gulping down RAM and processor cycles. I'm one of those people that keeps open multiple windows with at least a dozen tabs open in window, and before I found this extension it was a guarantee that Chrome would be my biggest RAM hog, with a footprint that often hovered near 10 gigs and which easily outpaced any other application, even a virtual Windows machine that I use for work stuff.

The extension allows you to whitelist certain sites or pages so that they are never put to sleep; lets you to specify how long a page remains idle before it is put to sleep; and gives you a bunch of other options to customize your experience with it. I use most of the defaults (sleeping after 30 minutes of inactivity), and I've whitelisted a few sites so they never go into hibernation (like Gmail), and now Chrome's RAM footprint is often below 3 gigs even though I have more tabs opened (and suspended) than ever, mostly becuase I don't prune nearly as often as I did before I found this extension.

Anyway. If you're a tab fiend like me, this extension is indispensible, especially for Chrome, which creates a separate memory thread for each tab, which is why the RAM footprint gets so big so quickly.

I've been sick for the past few days, an odd little summer flu that Will likely dragged home from his first couple of weeks back at elementary school (although neither he nor Julie have shown any signs of being ill). I can't do a whole lot but sleep or lay and watch tv when I'm not able to sleep, so I've been using some of my semi-lucid waking hours to finish off the last nine episodes of the second season of Gotham.

I'm only about halfway through them, but here are a few things I've taken away so far after not having watched the show for the last few months:

    1. Gotham is easily the best DC property on tv or on film since Christopher Nolan finished his Dark Knight trilogy. Any three consecutive episodes of this show are light years better than Batman v Superman.

    2. The casting continues to be dead-on for almost every character, but the one of the best guest spots so far is using Paul Reubens (aka Pee Wee Herman) to play Penguin's long lost father. I know this can't last for more than two or three episodes, but I'm loving every moment he's on screen.

    3. I'm glad we're getting a season 3 despite middling ratings (although it does do well with certain key demos), but I hope that, whenever they decide to pull the plug on this show, they give the writers at least a half season notice—this show relies as heavily on cliffhangers as the comic book genre that it springs from, and it would suck to not have the creative team have a chance to give us some semblance of closure with these characters.

One of the most amazing races I ran last year was the 5K on the Runway, where they shut down one of the runways at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and let us run a 5K while other planes were landing and taking off on adjacent runways. It was nearly a spiritual experience for me, and I was really looking forward to running it this year agian.

Unfortunately, it is scheduld for tomorrow, and I'm still trying to get over whatever this illness is, so I'm slowly starting to accept that it's highly probably that I won't be able to do it. I barely have enough stamina to go to the office for half a day, I haven't exercised at all since Monday (it hit me full force Tuesday morning), and I haven't done an outdoor run in a few weeks (although I have been running on the treadmill some).

Sure, it's possible that I'll get a good night's sleep tonight, wake up at 4:30, and feel like heading to the airport for the 6:30 start time—it's obviously a low-stress race because it's completely flat, which just doesn't happen for Atlanta 5Ks, and if they use the same course they did last year, it's also pretty short—nowhere near an actual 5K, and probably closer to 4K. But that seems pretty unlikely given the way I'm feeling now.

I'm still trying to get over whatever this is, but it is slowly getting better, and the main impact is that I'm really tired all the time and I get congested whenever I talk (which means that all my meetings today will be no fun). No more posts this week either—I leave tomorrow for a quick conference (drivable for once) and then I'm taking Thursday and Friday off to burn up some vacation before it disappears and to make an extra long weekend out of the holiday weekend.

This weekend I spend a lot of time trying to recover, but Will and Julie were pretty active—they went to run a one mile race that was raising money for an animal shelter (I ran the 5K last year before I joined Julie and Will for the one miler—I think that might have been the first one mile race that Will ever ran). It was a fun run, but Julie said he took it seriously and was really booking it most of the time—he was the second person (person, not kid) to cross the finish line, and he reminded Julie that she came in third all weekend.

In the afternoon they made a quick trip to the Fernback Science Center, which is right across the street from his school, and then for movie night on Saturday night we watched E.T., Will's first time seeing that movie. I hadn't watched it in a long, long time even though I saw it a bunch as a kid, and it was both better than I expected it to be and almost wincingly cheesy in some spots—all the classic Spielberg child-full-of-wonder tricks were there, but he was sometimes much more clumsy with them than he would be later in his career (like the rainbow that came off E.T.'s ship as it was flying away—I mean, seriously, how did that make it in there even in the early 80s?).

Another thing that struck me about the movie was how very 80s it was—I know it was set in the 80s, but every element of it, from the house, the toys and posters in the kids' rooms, and especially the clothes they were wearing, were the essence of that period in the 80s. What's interesting about that to me is that he wasn't trying to set this in some sort of nebulous, timeless childhood bubble—it was set squarely in its time and place in a way that feels much more authentic than many other films from that time (including Back to the Future, another film with iconic 80s art direction which Spielberg executive produced).

It's cool that he's getting to the point where he can/will watch live action movies—the quality of animated films is generally much higher these days than it was when I was a kid, but it still gets tiring choosing from among the couple dozen options from Disney, Pixar, Illumination, and DreamWorks that Will likes to watch. I really wanted him to read the Harry Potter books before he saw any of the movies, but I'm not sure I want the wizarding world to be absent from his cultural vocabulary for another four or five years, so I'm considering letting him watch the first one to see how he likes it, and then maybe reading that book to him.

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