december 2019

I had planned to take off the entirety of Thanksgiving week (we get Thursday and Friday off by default), but when I got home on Friday afternoon the week before, I had a pain in my stomach that intensified overnight and didn't start subsiding until about 24 hours after it started. I was also running a fever, and even when the pain started to fade, I wasn't able to eat anything for another day, and I didn't really have an appetite for several days afterward. So instead of enjoying a long weekend before family arrived on Wednesday and catching up on shows, etc., I mostly slept and tried to force myself to eat something a couple of times a day.

The first time I left the house was on Tuesday night to get supplies for Thanksgiving. Julie had gotten the turkey for me over the weekend, but all the other ingredients I picked up on Tuesday night. I spend most of the day Wednesday fixing casseroles and other sides that could be heated up on Thursday while the turkey rested, and then joined everyone for dinner at Mellow Mushroom in downtown Decatur once the family arrived from North Carolina.

I still wasn't feeling great, so I didn't go with Will and Julie to do the Thanksgiving 5K (I was hoping I would at least feel like walking it), but I still got up around 9 to get ready for company to come over. I put the turkey in around noon, aiming for a 4:00 dinner time (it takes about half an hour to get it in the over, another 2 1/2 hours for the turkey to cook, and then 45-60 minutes to get all the sides ready while the turkey rests), and then hung out with everyone even though I really just wanted to nap.

Dinner went pretty well, although I only had very small single portions of the dishes, and then I was ready for bed. But people hung around chatting and watching football until relatively late and it wasn't until sometime after 9 that we said goodnight to everyone and I had a chance to get some rest. I wasn't really able to go out and do activities with everyone over the next couple of days—I just stayed home and took naps while they did stuff around Atlanta—but I did get to hang out when they came back to the house.

All in all, Thanksgiving dinner itself went well, and it was great to have family here (in addition to my parents, my sister, her husband, and my nephew all came down for a visit for the first time since we moved to Atlanta), but it was a pretty miserable week for me. I'm still not fully recovered—my appetite is still pretty week, and I still sometimes run a fever (I'm thinking I must have gotten the flu from someone at the office), but I'm getting better every day and I hope I'll be past this soon.

Two weekends of football have gone by since the last time I wrote about UGA and the Ravens, and both weekends went pretty well for both teams. Even though UGA clinched the SEC East after their win over Auburn and their remaining games were against unranked teams (Texas A+M and Georgia Tech), they needed to win both those games in order to remain in serious consideration for a playoff spot. That spot will still depend on them beating undefeated LSU in the SEC Championship game this Saturday, but otherwise they've done all they needed to do this season.

I have some concerns about the offense—one of their best receivers is out, another is banned from the first half of the championship game due to a foul in the Georgia Tech game, and their best running back has an injury that could affect his performance. And unlike in previous years, they don't have a strong running back duo plus a strong third option; Swift has been their best and really only option this season, and that part of their attack has not been nearly as strong this year.

As good as our defense can be, the offense is still likely going to need to put up a bunch of points to keep up with LSU. They'll need to score early and often; if they can keep us in it until the fourth quarter, our stronger defense could be the difference-maker in the game.

The Ravens, meanwhile, continued to roll, even though they faced two other playoff-likely teams (since the first week of October, aside from two games against division rival Cincinnati, the Ravens have face nothing except for teams with winning records, many of whom are likely to end up in the playoffs, and including both teams that appeared in the Super Bowl last year, and they've won every matchup).

The first game was a Monday night west coast game against defending NFC champion Los Angeles Rams, and it was yet another blowout. The final score was 45-6, and that makes it seem closer than it was. Once again the Ravens pulled star quarterback Lamar Jackson with more than 10 minutes left in the game and focused on playing out the clock rather than scoring more points.

The next game was this past Sunday against the 10-1 San Francisco 49ers, and it was a much closer contest. Part of that was due to the weather—they played the game in Baltimore, and it was a chilly, rainy day that made both passing  and running plays on offense much more difficult because of the wet ball and cold extremities. Both teams have great offenses and great defenses, and it was a matchup that for once lived up to the pregame hype.

Neither team ever led by more than a single score, and they matched each other score for score in a physical grind that didn't lead to very many points for either team. Going into the fourth quarter, they were tied 17-17 when the Ravens got the ball back with a little over six minutes to go. Lamar Jackson engineering a brilliant drive that allowed Baltimore to run the clock down to three seconds and give our kicker, Justin Tucker, a chance to win the game on a difficult 49 yard attempt. He nailed it, and there was nothing the 49ers could do at that point but watch the clock run out as the ball sailed through the uprights.

It's entirely possible that both of these teams could make it to the Super Bowl and play each other under much more favorable conditions. The defenses are still going to matter if that happens, but I expect both offense to score a lot more points and show a lot more dynamism than they were able to display in the brutal conditions they had to contend with on Sunday.

Next up for the Ravens is what should be the last really challenging game on their schedule, an away game against the surprisingly strong Buffalo Bills. Weather could again be a factor, but if the Ravens can bring home a win, it will clinch a playoff berth for them and keep them ahead of the New England for the first seed in the AFC after New England lost to Houston on Sunday, giving them the same record as the Ravens (and Baltimore owns the tiebreaker because they won the head to head game back in October).

On the heels of two non-fiction pop science books, I decided to veer back into science fiction with one of my favorite hard sci fi writers, Neal Stephenson. I started with a new short story/novella called "Atmosphaera Incognita", which is about a billionaire building a giant tower in the desert which could be used to more easily launch things into space or transport them to low orbit, but which he's really building just because he can and because he likes solving the technical problems that come with it (Jeff Bezos, who is a friend of Stephenson's and for whom Stephenson consults at the Blue Origin spaceflight company, is credited with one of the ideas about how you would keep a tower stable as it enters the winds of the high atmosphere).

It's a slight story but an enjoyable read if you like technical details about how such a thing might actually be built. Fans of Stephenson would enjoy it, but I can't imagine who else would.

Then I jumped into Stephenson's real new work: Fall, Or Dodge in Hell, a full novel that came out earlier this year. The titular Dodge is the same character from Reamde, a billionaire who made his money creating the most popular MMO on the planet, and not only do we get to continue his story, but we also have appearances from characters and families that originate in some of his most loved works, The Cryptonomicon and the three novels that make up the Baroque Cycle.

Unfortunately, the near-future parts of the book that take place in this world end up being my favorite parts to read. Because most of the book takes place in the world of the singularity, where we finally develop the technology to store the human brain in a computer system and allow it to use that system to continue to grow and develop new experiences and memories. The novel also touches on other long-discussed sci fi concepts such as a Dyson sphere and a fully automated world that leaves significant time for leisure and intellectual pursuits, but these are referenced only obliquely.

The singularity is the star of the show, and so of course the title character ends up being the first person in the human race to have his brain successfully digitized and uploaded into a server farm. For a long time, he is the only entity there, and he becomes somewhat of a god, literally creating a new world in his image and setting the stage for other souls who will follow him. It's a nice tie-in to his background as an immersive game designer—those skills doubtless came in handy when creating a new cyberspace world—but part of the process of being digitized erases many of your specific memories, so even though we spend a lot of time with him in that world, it's not really the same Dodge we grew to love in Reamde.

As more people get uploaded to the system, there are the inevitable power struggles, and the setting allows Stephenson to reference everything from creations myths of many different cultures to Dante and Milton to the origin stories of the main figures from today's leading world religion. I'm sure every episode refers to some actual myth or story, and grad students will have a fun time speculating about the specific references for the next 30 years, but after a while, it's all just a mishmash of folklore and religion that doesn't feel at all relatable (I started this book to read sci fi, not fantasy, and the setting of the world of the singularity is most analogous to a medieval world infused with magic).

I also got hung up on some of Stephenson's descriptions of how society and culture evolve in the face of this brave new world. The owners of the system (a consortium of some of the wealthiest corporations on the planet) nobly decide to make the system accessible to everyone, not just the ultra wealthy (which is unbelievable on its face), but what I really had a problem with was that everyone seemed fine going along with this.

There's no doubt in my mind that tens of millions of people, probably hundreds of millions, would decline this digital immortality on philosophical, religious, or other grounds, especially because, from the data those in the real world can observe, there's no reason to believe that these uploaded minds have any connection to the real people they were scanned on. It's also clear that most of the people uploaded to the system end up being virtual slaves to one of the more powerful entities, which, even if you might have been interested in being digitally immortal, would become a lot less appealing if you were going to spend the rest of your existence as a thoughtless drone doing manual labor.

There was also no expiation as to why other instance of this environment weren't spun up, ones where the ultra wealthy could have their very own universe instead of having to live in Dodge's, or why more effort wasn't made to bridge the communication divide between the world of the singularity and the real world. Or why, quite frankly, the people controlling the servers and the program weren't able and/or willing to influence events and behaviors in the digital world.

I don't know. Stephenson remains one of my favorite authors, but his last two books (Seveneves and Dodge) have been overall disappointments, despite some brilliant passages and sections. I definitely would not recommend this book for virgin Stephenson readers—he's got thousands of pages of much more worthwhile material to get through before you should consider this.

I finally started watching The Mandalorian on Disney+, and I've gotten through the first four episodes (they air a new episode every week like a traditional network, with the final episode due the week after The Rise of Skywalker comes out). I wasn't sure what to expect, but so far I'm really liking it—not only does it explore some of the less traveled corners of the Star Wars universe (both geographically and chronologically—it takes place in the time between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, when the Empire has fallen, but the New Republic is still mostly confined to the core systems and the First Order has not yet made its presence known), but they got the main part of it right: a likable hero.

Yes, he's a badass who dresses like Boba Fett, but he's also prone to mistakes that often put his life in serious jeopardy, which not only makes him more real but makes him more likable. The character is played by Pedro Pascal, who you would likely remember as Oberyn Martell from Game of Thrones. But you won't remember him without reading the credits, because as is the code the the Mandalorian race, he never removes his helmet. Which makes Pascal's performance all that more brilliant—to be able to express a personality and emotions while wearing a giant metal helmet and speaking in a low, growly whisper is pretty impressive.

The show also does a good job with stretching a larger story arc across self-contained episodes, each of which give us further insights into his history, his culture, and his character while simultaneously advancing the larger plot. The setting changes every time, as do the other characters he encounters (except for one, who we encounter in the first episode and who stays with him for all the episodes I've seen). This gives us a chance to further explore other parts of the Star Wars universe while also introducing some characters who could easily recur later in the season or the series.

Here's another smart thing the show has done: whatever the story arc is for this character, and however many seasons it might take to play out, whenever it's time for a new start, they could follow a completely different Mandalorian bounty hunter and have a whole new show.

For Disney's first attempt at a live action Star Wars television show, I'm pretty happy with it. And if this is what became of the aborted Boba Fett standalone movie (which was nixed after the poor performance of Solo at the box office), I can't wait to see what they do with the similarly aborted Obi Wan movie, based on a character we're more familiar with who is also getting his own live action series on Disney+.

The stretch from early October to the beginning of January is heaven for Will for one main reason: he loves decorating, first for Halloween and then for Christmas. Christmas is the biggest affair so far, but Will is pushing hard to add more yard inflatables for Halloween (we only have one now, but he also decorates the yard and bushes with cobwebs, signs, and fake spiders).

We got our tree earlier this week, and over the next week the inflatables will be put out in the yard (we currently have an 8 foot tall Christmas dragon and a much more modest penguin, but Will will certainly add something new this year), a light display will aimed at the house, and lights and decorations will be added to the tree.

I'm not much of a decorator, but Will loves it so much, and I don't know how long this will last, so I'm okay with him going much bigger than I would (I got the Christmas dragon for him last year as a surprise). Maybe he'll be a yard decorator for the rest of his life; maybe we'll have an army of inflatables in our yard by the time he's in college. Or maybe he'll grow out of it when he hits his teen years. But either way it brings him so much joy right now, and that's all we can really give our kids in this life (and other family members, and friends, and strangers): moments of joy that hopefully become the memories that sustain them.

We had a busy day on Saturday, especially Will—he decided he wanted to start the acolyte training (he'll be old enough to do it next year), which meant an extended training/education session at church on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. And then almost as soon as he got home, we headed out to visit my mom.

She had yet another surgery—it seems like she's had a surgery every 4-6 months for the past two years since she fell and broke her leg—this one on her right shoulder (she had her left shoulder repaired in August, but she still can't really use it). Her friend Jane (my godmother), who she's known since their first year in college at UNC together, flew in to tend to her for the first week, so she was there as well.

My mom's not really fit to leave the house, so Will and I went out to get dinner from a new chicken tender restaurant that just opened near my mom named Huey Magoo's. The food was fine, but going there was a mistake for two reasons: first, because it was brand new, EVERYONE was there to give it a try, and it took us 35 minutes to order our food and have it packed up for us to go. Second, the menu is virtually identical to Zaxby's (even the "signature" sauce is exactly like Zaxby's) and there is one of those about a three minute drive from the Huey Magoo's location.

Add in the fact that the stylized "G" for the logo (I guess for the "g" in Magoo's?) that's meant to look like a chicken is exactly like Chick-fil-A's stylized "C", and Huey Magoo's is essentially a wannabe corporate chain that's ripping off Zaxby's menu and marketing it with Chick-fil-A's logo.

But my mom enjoyed the meal—she got a salad, which seemed to have a nice fresh selection of mixed greens as its base—as did everyone else (except Will, who rode with me to get dinner and lobbied for me to stop and get him a Firehouse sub, which was right on the way to Huey Magoo's). We didn't get to spend a whole lot of time with her beyond dinner because it was getting late and Will was bouncing off the walls, but I know she appreciates the visits.

It's hard for us to get out there during the week, especially because rush hour traffic is all going in that direction (lots of people work in Atlanta and live out that direction), so it takes us even longer than usual if we try to go out there anytime before 7:00 on a weeknight). But we'll try to visit as much as we can over the holidays because she likely won't be able to get out of her house much, and once Jane leaves, she won't have many people besides her occasional healthcare workers who can spend time with her.

When we got back from my mom's on Saturday night, I watched the SEC championship game between UGA and LSU (which I had recorded because I knew I wouldn't be able to watch it live). I knew this would be a tough game, and it was a must-win game if Georgia was going to have a shot at the playoffs, but man, was that a disappointing loss.

The Georgia offense has been a growing concern this season, and having dependable wide receiver Lawrence Cager sidelined with an injury and emerging star wide receiver George Pickens unavailable for the first half due to a holdover penalty from the final regular season game against Georgia Tech meant that Jake Fromm was short on targets. And Georgia's vaunted defense, which only gave up 20 points once this season, fell apart against Joe Burrow's improvised rollouts—the pass rush couldn't get to him before coverage broke down, and LSU ended up with 37 points, more than double what the team allowed to any other team this season except for the lone 20 point game against South Carolina.

I'm not sure how much it would have mattered—Georgia's running attack this has been much weaker than in past years when they had two and sometimes three backs that were deadly (this year Swift is the only real star), and Fromm just didn't seem to take a major step forward in his development this year. It will be interesting to see if he comes back next year to try to boost his stock for the NFL draft, or if he feels strongly that he can be a first round pick this year.

We had an embarrassment of riches at the QB position a few years ago—Fromm took over for Jacob Eason after Eason was injured (and Eason transferred to Washington, his home  state, and led them to a great season this year), and the year after that we had Justin Fields as Fromm's backup before Fields transferred to Ohio State (Fields will be leading that team in the playoffs, and he's also a serious contender for the Heisman along with LSU's Joe Burrows, who is likely to be the number one overall draft pick in the NFL next April). But now I'm not sure who would take over for Fromm if he were to leave, and I'm also not sure if we will have the talent we need at the wide receiver position to make Fromm an effective quarterback if he stays.

UGA will still play in the Sugar Bowl, but it's a disappointing end to a season whose success was always going to be judged on reaching the playoffs and advancing to the championship game. And for the first time since Kirby Smart's arrival, it feels like next season could be a plateau or a downward trajectory instead of an upward one. It will be interesting to see who leaves for the NFL and who comes in in the next recruiting class, and more importantly what the coaches do to adjust their schemes for the talent they have.

Will wanted to watch the Ravens game with me on Sunday, and that was a much more satisfying experience. We were playing the Bills in Buffalo, and just like last week's game, the weather was a definite factor for both teams. This time it was the wind, which made the passing and kicking much more difficult, but the fact that both defenses went through stretches of great play also helped keep the score low.

As usual, Baltimore led the entire time, but it was still a bit of a nail biter. The Ravens' biggest lead was 24-9, after a touchdown drive that took 5 minutes off the clock early in the fourth quarter, but the Bills came back with a quick three minute drive that resulted in 8 points after a touchdown and a two point conversion. There were 7 minutes left in the game at that point, and normally Lamar Jackson is capable of eating 5+ minutes off the clock and getting more points at the end of it (doing so this time would have left the Bills with 2 minutes or less to get two scores), but uncharacteristically, the offense had a quick 3 and out that only took 93 seconds off the clock.

This put the Bills a touchdown behind with 5 and 1/2 minutes to go, putting the game in the defense's hands. But stupid (and possibly miscalled) penalties, including an especially painful pass interference call on 4th and 16 with just over 2 minutes to go put the Bills in the red zone with four chances to get a score.

The offense has been the hero for most of this season, and last week against the 49ers special teams got a chance to shine by kicking a game winning field goal as time expired, but in this game the defense finally got their shot. Despite the penalties earlier in the drive, they stiffened on this final drive in the red zone, culminating with an end zone deflection by Marcus Peters on fourth down that effectively ended the game. With only 63 seconds remaining when the offense got the ball back, all they had to do was kneel down twice to notch their ninth win in a row with a final score of 24-17.

With this win they clinched a playoff berth; one more win will clinch the AFC North for the second consecutive year, and a second win will give them the number one seed in the playoffs, giving them both a bye week and guaranteeing them home field advantage through the AFC championship game (assuming they win the divisional round game, of course).

This is an amazing place to be as a Ravens fan; even though they have a short turnaround this week (they play again on Thursday night), it's a home game against the Jets, who should still be a very beatable opponent despite their recent turnaround. After that are two division games against the Browns and Steelers, but as long as they take care of business against the Jets, it's hard to see how they won't win at least one of those games with the problems both those teams are having this year.

Silicon Valley has been airing its final season since late October, and the series finale finally aired Sunday. There was a time this one one of the sharpest shows on television, especially if you had ever worked in the tech industry in the dotcom era, but even though I've stuck with it out of loyalty, it hasn't really had a great season since season 3.

There were small attempts to move the characters in new directions this season, but honestly, so much of it seems like slightly altered versions of storylines we've seen several times by now, and it was clear that there was nothing left in the idea tank. The ending was somewhat satisfying—there was a reasonable conclusion, and it put our favorite characters into positive situations even if they didn't become the tech billionaires they always dreamed of becoming, but it was really, really time for this show to come to an end.

I'm not sure I'll ever watch this show again, because the stuff that seemed so new in those great early seasons were rebased so much in subsequent seasons that watching them again would make them feel far less brilliant and original than they were at the time. But it's nice to have closure with the show and with the characters, and I'm glad I didn't abandon the show before they got to the end (even though really, you could have aired season 6 as season 5 and skipped season 5 entirely and not had much change in terms of the overall character arcs).

I resisted the Rick and Morty hype for a long time, but I finally sat down and watched a few episodes shortly after the third season finished airing its last episode, and I was pretty much instantly hooked. I bought all three seasons on Amazon and watched at least a couple of them every night for a few months. So to say that I was excited for the return of the show with the first half of season 4 is an understatement.

In seasons 2 and 3, the first episode of the season was one of the best of that season, partially because both of them resolved cliffhangers from the previous season. But season 3 concluded in a pretty closed-loop way (possibly because at that point Cartoon Network hadn't yet committed to a season 4, despite the fact that Rick and Morty is one of their highest rated shows), so we were essentially starting fresh with the first episode of season 4.

I've watched every episode at least 3 times now, and the first half of the seasons is...okay. There were some good episodes, and only one that I didn't really care for (episode 2, "The Old Man and the Seat", simultaneously tries too hard to make tell serious, sympathetic story about Rick while undercutting the melancholy with a lot of poop jokes), but overall, there weren't any that seem like they are destined to become signature episodes from the show. The premiere episode would have been a solid midseason episode for the other seasons, but it didn't see to set a tone or theme for the season like the opening episodes of 2 and 3 did. Episodes 3 and 4 (one a riff on heist movies and the other on fantasy shows) were also solid, but my favorite was probably episode 5, where Rick and Morty come into contact with a planet of sentient snakes.

A big gag in that episode were extended sequences on the snake planet that didn't involve Rick and Morty at all in which the only dialogue was the snakes hissing. This went on for far too long, and it should have fallen flat after the first couple of scenes, but for me it just got funnier and funnier the longer it went on. There was a good Jerry side story as well, where he finds a little of the resiliency and competency that Rick desperately does not want him to have but of which we've seen flashes in alternate timelines. This actually felt like it should have been the first episode of season 4, as it picks up on some of the themes from the final episode of season 3.

A slight reordering of the playlist here could have made the first half of this season feel stronger and more coherent, but as I said, it still wasn't bad. Hopefully the second half of the season will appear by spring of 2020, and then hopefully we also won't have 2+ years to wait for another season to appear—Cartoon Network wisely signed the team to a massive 70 episode commitment that should allow them to create on a more predictable timeline and eventually give us 10 seasons of the show.

Last night we went to my office holiday party, which once again (but only for the second time since I've been here) was held offsite in the evening. This time it was at a nice French restaurant where we had a nice big room to ourselves and which gave us a lot more room to move around have conversations than the relatively cramped space we were in last year. I chatted to a few people in the office I don't see that often, and also got to meet a few new spouses, one of whom will likely join my friends and I at a trivia night sometime soon.

They also had a raffle this year, and once again I won something. Last year it was a box of chocolates, but this year it was something called a Buddha Board, where you paint pictures with water only for them to fade away after a few minutes. I like the idea, and I'm planning to set it up in my office (Will was also intrigued; we're probably going to get him one for Christmas).

The only negative thing was that not everyone was able to come, including, for the second year a in row, our main boss. Last year he was there for a few minutes, but he had to go to his wife's department's holiday party (she's a tenured faculty member at our institution); this year he wasn't able to make it at all because he was on the west coast dealing with some family issues. But the event was emceed by the head of the counseling team, who is normally pretty entertaining but gets even moreso when he has a couple of glasses of wine, and he was definitely in his cups and in fine form last night.

I hope we continue doing this for our holiday party, and I would love it if our budget allowed us to one or two other events like this throughout the year. I'm very focused on work at work, and I enjoy the chance not only to get to know my coworkers in a more relaxed setting, but also to share the non-work part of my personality.

Over the weekend we went to visit my mom, who is still in the early stages of recovery from her latest surgery (another shoulder—she had the other one operated on in August). We had a lot going on over the weekend, however, so we were just able to stay for a couple of hours, including getting lunch from Bojangles and bringing it back to her house.

Will had a bunch of other stuff on his social calendar: a big international potluck dinner at his school on Friday night; a trip to the Center for Puppetry Arts to see The Nightmare Before Christmas movie (the woman in front of us thought it was an actual puppet show version of the movie, and she broke down crying when she realized it was just the movie when she'd apparently been promising her kids that it was a puppet show); finishing the tree decorations; a Scout event where they visit a retirement home; and finally, his holiday recital at his music school.

This year he did a complicated variation on Jingle Bells, and although he usually steps up his game when he's on stage, this was one of his best performances in a recital format, and it might have been the best I've heard him play the song after weeks of practicing. Because my mom can't easily travel (see the aforementioned multiple surgeries), she wasn't able to come this year, but Julie's mom was, so he had a nice little cheering section.

After the recital we went out to the Hawaiian barbecue place for dinner, which has become one of Will's favorites—ever since he tried their house fried rice (with pineapples, shrimp, and spam), he's been hooked—and then we spent the remainder of Sunday evening trying to prepare for our last week of work and school before the holiday break.

The Ravens played the Jets on Sunday, where they rolled to a convincing 42-21 win. This was their 10th straight win in a row, and it also crowned them as winners of the AFC North for the second year in a row, which is no small feat, even with the problems that have plagued their primary competition in the division this year, the Browns and the Steelers.

With a win next week in Cleveland, they can clinch the number one overall playoff seed in the AFC, meaning they would not only get a bye week the first week of the playoffs, but they would also be guaranteed home field advantage through the AFC championship game, something the franchise has never had before. It would also give them the option of resting some of their starters in week 17, but that might not be necessary, because this team will still be heavily motivated to knock the Steelers out of playoff contention even if they have already cemented their place in the playoff hierarchy.

This has been such a great season so far, and just knowing we're in the playoffs with two weeks left to go in the season is not something I'm used to as a Ravens fan—even when we were regularly going to the postseason in Joe Flacco's first five years, it was always as an underdog and with only a very rare first round home playoff game, with most of our games being played on the road (including the all but the wildcard round of our last Super Bowl win after the 2012 season).

Hopefully they can keep the momentum up for the next couple of weeks (they also have a chance at going 14-2, which the franchise has never done before), and then into the postseason. They're a tough team to beat no matter what, but especially when they play in Baltimore.

Today is my last official day of work until January 6, and tonight I head to a local theater with a friend for 24 straight hours of Star Wars movies, starting with Episode 1 and ending with the final film of the final trilogy of the Skywalker saga, The Rise of Skywalker. So no more posts until 2020.

Even though we've got a lot of family stuff planned, I'm looking forward to a good bit of downtime, but even though the Star Wars marathon will be fun, I'm not sure if I would describe it as relaxing. Hopefully the chairs will be comfortable for some extended naps during episodes 2 and 3.

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