The URI! Zone - 03/2011
Cost of Living Day
It's been almost four years since I last calculated how much it costs to be me. Many things have changed since then, most notably the fact that female roommates take longer showers, driving up the water bill. Here is a look at my 2010 expenses (at least, the ones based upon regular bills).
|Car Tax||$0.24/day, $90/year||$0.30/day, $109/year||$0.29/day, $107/year|
|My trusty 2001 Honda Accord just flipped over the 91,000 mile mark, thanks to a combined diet of "working in Reston" and "permanently parking in Tallahassee for two years except for trips to Walmart and Applebees". As such, my car taxes have gone down slightly each year, even as the tax rate goes up.|
|HOA Fees||$0.40/day, $147/year||$0.41/day, $150/year||$0.48/day, $177/year|
|The street lights are still on, and the board of concerned citizens still has more gaps than the smiles of the privileged kids raised on fluoride-less bottled water. A worthy expense.|
|Popeyes||$0.65/day, $240/year||$0.62/day, $226/year||$0.16/day, $60/year|
|The career-driven cashiers who have served me for nearly six years now still have my order ready when I walk to the counter ($3.72 for a two piece meal, dark meat, mild, with fries), but I only make it to Popeyes about once or twice a month now. I'm going to live past 50 in spite of my best efforts.|
|Water||$0.71/day, $260/year||$0.61/day, $222/year||$0.88/day, $322/year|
|At least one resident in this house actually showers now, and I think Loudoun Water recently blew a bunch of money on renaming themselves from "Loudoun County Sanitation Authority".|
|House Insurance||$0.91/day, $333/year||$1.13/day, $414/year||$1.51/day, $550/year|
|For every five years that go by without any claims, you should get all the money back.|
|Phone Service||$1.41/day, $514/year||$1.40/day, $512/year||$1.53/day, $560/year|
|Last year marked the beginning of the great social experiment known as "owning a cell phone". Although it looks higher than 2007, my costs for staying on a land line would have been $600/year.|
|Cable||$1.47/day, $537/year||$0/day, $0/year||$0/day, $0/year|
|Cable is lame.|
|Internet||$1.57/day, $576/year||$1.30/day, $475/year||$1.97/day, $719/year|
|Comcast finally realized that they were underbilling me by $20 a month when they rebranded my crap Internet service as XFinity.|
|Trash Pickup||$0.88/day, $324/year||$0.98/day, $357/year||$1.37/day, $503/year|
|I think AAA Trash has put their "because of environmental costs, we are adding gas fees to your bill" mailer on an automatic schedule. This is a huge, huge waste of money, especially since little people result in little waste, but it's still the cheapest provider in the neighbourhood.|
|Car Insurance||$2.53/day, $924/year||$2.35/day, $858/year||$1.84/day, $670/year|
|Married guys cause fewer accidents.|
|Electricity||$2.63/day, $960/year||$2.83/day, $1036/year||$3.12/day, $1139/year|
|My electric bill went up a very modest amount, probably because I painted the entire house green.|
|House Tax||$8.54/day, $3120/year||$11.06/day, $4040/year||$7.71/day, $2814/year|
|An oft-overlooked positive from the housing explosion is the reduction in property taxes.|
|Mortgage||$46.02/day, $16,800/year||$46.02/day, $16,800/year||$46.02/day, $16,800/year|
|My monthly mortgage is actually $1395.40, and I overpay because I'm lazy. It's faster to write "Fourteen hundred" on a check than "Thirteen hundred ninety-five".|
|$68.01/day, $24,825/year||$69.03/day, $25,199/year||$66.91/day, $24,421/year|
At $2.78 per hour (even when I'm sleeping), my fixed cost of living has actually declined in three years, but this is no doubt offset by the exorbitant number of trips to Red Robin and Amazon.com purchases not reflected in these numbers.Voodoo sex candles blamed for fatal fire
Man pays $200,000 to save fake girlfriend in online scam
Penis graffiti points skyward when bridge is raised
Memory Day: Snapshots
My dad recently converted several tattered troves of negatives into scanned images, instantly adding hundreds of never-before-seen shots as potential Memory Day fodder. Here is the first, taking in December 1992.
Pizza owner used mice against the competition
Camera prettifies subject, even adds makeup
There are no major spoilers in these reviews.
The Guild, Season Four:
The story in this season of The Guild grows organically from its focus around online gaming and manages to shift around several of the character relationships to support ensuing hilarity. This season (about an hour and twenty minutes) is just as good as previous seasons, although I would have to watch them all again to really pick out a favourite.
Final Grade: B+
The Office, Season One:
When The Office first came out, I stopped watching it after about four episodes. People always looked at me incredulously when I said I didn't like it, but rewatching it today confirms my undeniable prowess at being judgy. The first season is pretty weak, with more uncomfortable moments than funny ones, and the character of Michael Scott is written to be 100% unsympathetic. We're watching the 2nd season now, and I find that all of my perceived issues have been addressed. Note: The first season is only 6 episodes long.
Final Grade: C-
Ten by Gabriella Cilmi:
This is Cilmi's follow-up to Lessons to Be Learned, and though her voice is just as solid, the songs aren't quite as good. There's a larger focus on dance beats, resulting in a CD full of catchy, forgettable pop. This is also not a CD I can blast in the car with the windows down, since most of the songs have lyrics like "I am a woman on a mission (whoa)" that do not reflect well on masculinity.
Final Grade: B-
Woman survives ride on minivan hood
Buyer beware of bathtub cheese
List Day: Work Phrases That Need a Makeover
- a "one-stop shop" for [features]: You never really needed to access all of these features at the same time, but now you can!
- these slides speak to this topic: Holy crap, a talking
- let's touch base tomorrow: This sounds slightly dirty.
- we need to pull the trigger on this: Save two syllables with "Let's stop dicking around."
- OBE (overtaken by events): This means that we waited long enough to solve a problem that it went away on its own and saved us some effort.
- we'll leverage our existing resources: We're actually going to use our resources, not exert pressure on them until they quit.
- do you have the bandwidth to support this?: If work is measured in throughput, then some peoples' latency is out of control.
- let's take that offline: No one else cares about that.
Letter arrives 66 years later
Spider web fire risk prompts Mazda6 recall
At the base of the South Point Falls around Mile 63 of Skyline Drive
Wine and a woodfire at the cottage on Brightwood Farm
Rebecca gets trampled by stampeding goats during a rainy breakfast hour. We also mucked some donkey stables.
Warming up in the breakfast nook with an introspective copy of Walden. He was determined to know beans.
"May cause drowsiness" too confusing for modern medicine
Mexico female police chief flees to US
As part of this feature, which I started in 2007, I compose a very brief work (under 30 seconds) inspired by a randomly generated title from an online word generator or suggested by a reader. The composition can be for any instrumentation, and could even be a purely synthesized realization that might not be possible to perform in the real world.
I work on the excerpt continuously for an hour and then post whatever I've managed to complete, even if it could be the hit single from Glenn Gould Plays Tatu.
Asunder: (adj.) apart or widely separatedMy Composition (0:30 MP3)
This excerpt is for piano, celeste and a mix of percussion and woodwinds. It gets a little unfocused towards the end -- I had planned make the rhythmic elements more discombobulated and asunder, but didn't have quite enough time before the hour was up to polish it. Plus, there were Cornish game hens in the oven to be eaten.Crew builds the UP! house in real life
Russian spy Anna Chapman in from cold, out on web
Sick note: Faking illness online
Memory Day: Snapshots
The URI! Family, circa 1982. There's enough striping and plaid in this picture to make it look like one of those MINI Pages "spot the hidden things" challenges. The lamps and curtains still exist in the house today, but the scratchy, impossible to sleep on, couch is long gone. It was briefly reincarnated in blue-green in my Florida apartment in 2001. Researcher blows $15K prize by reporting bug before contest
Rampaging goats blamed for election sabotage
7-year itch becomes 3-year glitch
DDMSence 1.7.2 is now available for download, preempting my webpage update time for today. My library is seeing a steady growth of interest around the US, and a surprising number of returning visitors from Australia and New Zealand. Perhaps this will give me the opportunity to take a trip there for "business" some day.Balloon stunt blows up in Gamespot's face
Millionaire dentist arrested for stealing credit card for pizza
New microscope creates 3D live action cell videos
more razzle, less dazzle
♠ Our weekend at Brightwood Farm last weekend was a ton of fun. It's a working organic farm, and also has a wooden cottage nestled on a cliff over two merging creeks. We sampled a bunch of farm wines (including a few made from elderberries), and enjoyed the company of sheep, goats, chickens, ducks, donkeys, guinea hens, three giant guard dogs, and a herding dog that knew how to chase chickens back into the coop without eating any. We will definitely return!
♠ While driving out into the countryside, we learned that the Nissan Pavilion is now named the Jiffy Lube Live Pavilion (and has been for at least a year). I'm not saying that the old name was any better for an outdoor concert venue, but "Jiffy Lube Live" really doesn't get me any more excited to sit in the parking lot with my engine idling for 6 hours to see a 2 hour concert. Unless Jiffy Lube is bringing their 20 minute oil change concept to their parking attendants, this was probably a waste of sponsorship on their part. "Lube Live" would probably draw a bigger crowd, but for all of the wrong reasons.
♠ I found this logo in a Jiffy Lube press release about the sponsorship. Apparently, they do their graphic design in 20 minutes or less as well. I suppose that the edgy typesetting of the word "live" appears dangerous and makes it seem like anything could happen in this venue, and the failed justification of "a Live Nation venue" implies that something is "not quite right" here. Were I in charge of the art department, I would just use the Jiffy Lube logo followed by "live", and make jokes about olives.
♠ Blogging is far easier when there is something to mock. And there's always something to mock!
♠ Plans for the weekend include a dinner with friends, some finalization of our slow-moving kitchen planning, and the selection of a beach house for our summer vacation. Tomorrow is 12 of 12 as well, so perhaps I'll take 12 pictures of me inside of Costco.
♠ Have a great weekend!Millions of fish dead in Redondo Beach
India catchs 57 drunk pilots and grounds 11
Bank robbery thwarted when teller says no
Chad Darnell's 12 of 12
7:08 AM: Booty decides that it's time for us to get up.
7:48 AM: Post-shower on a Saturday morning.
8:13 AM: Bagels with cream cheese for breakfast over the doom and gloom newspaper.
9:48 AM: At Lowes, comparing cabinet styles for our kitchen.
11:09 AM: At Safeway, buying a bunch of healthy crap.
11:33 AM: Apparently we need more counterspace for all of the groceries we end up buying. Apparently, we haven't gone grocery shopping in a while either.
11:48 AM: Carbohydrates are an integral part of my daily intake.
12:02 PM: Lunch is a ham sandwich on a sesame bun with swiss cheese, mayo, and bacon bits.
3:14 PM: Doing more kitchen remodeling research.
5:23 PM: Changing gears to search for beach houses.
6:00 PM: Dinner is a bowl of clam chowder with a reread of the Dragon Tattoo opener. I don't know how anyone who doesn't read fast got through the first two hundred pages.
7:45 PM: World of Warcraft night with Anna and Ben (and at the same time as Jason who's on a whole 'nother server).
See more 12 of 12ers at Chad's site!Earthquake messing up your GPS devices
Bono and Spielberg up for Gorbachev awards
Lady Gaga may sue over breastmilk ice cream name
Recipe Day: Swiss-Mushroom Burgers
- Hearty buns that won't fall apart at the first sign of saturated fats
- 1.5 pounds ground beef
- Generous dash of thyme
- Italian bread crumbs
- Onion salt
- Swiss cheese
- Bacon bits
- Sliced mushrooms
- A bare minimum of greenery, so it looks healthy
- Form patties with ground beef and bread crumbs. Season with thyme, onion salt and pepper.
- Wash then saut?e mushrooms in a skillet with olive oil. Drain.
- Grill patties to medium, adding cheese in the final few minutes.
- Spread mayo on toasted buns, then add bacon bits. The mayo keeps a uniform level of bacon throughout the burger, and using bits instead of strips prevents you from pulling a strip out on your very first bite.
- Serve with Smithwicks.
Prayer ritual alarms US flight crew
Act Now! Pirates Offer Discounts on Select Ransoms
Memory Day: Snapshots
This is me on my brand new He-Man bike in 1983. I have to say that the picture I drew here of the bike holds up pretty well to the real thing. You can tell that this is top quality workmanship, since the tires are made of plastic, and the He-Man trademarks are held on with black plastic ties.
Today, I can't even think of a valid connection between He-Man and bicycles -- it's not like you can pretend to be Orko while coasting down a hill on your training wheels. Had they sold swords, it would have been a much stronger product placement.When the Marketing Reach of Social Media Backfires
Chickens are capable of empathy
False start for 2012 Olympics clock
There are no spoilers in these reviews.
Eloquent Ruby by Russ Olsen:
I reviewed the prequel to this book, Design Patterns in Ruby back in 2008, but still have not learned how to program in Ruby. I know enough to survive in a foreign Ruby country where I could decipher the signs to find the bathroom, but not enough to speak fluently to the natives. In spite of this lack of knowledge, I was able to understand and enjoy this follow-up book, even though it's a little more Ruby-centric. As I said in my Amazon review, "Russ has a knack for distilling concepts to their simplest, understandable form while maintaining a breezy, friendly writing style that invites readers to share in his excitement about Ruby." It's definitely worth a glance if you do any Ruby at all in your programming job.
Final Grade: A-
The Office, Season 2:
Emerging from the shadow of the awful first season, the second season of The Office does everything right, and is funny from start-to-finish without relying completely on uncomfortable situations. Even though Dilbert did it first, every episode seems to find a fresh aspect of the workplace to mock while maintaining mostly likable main characters.
Final Grade: A
Only two reviews this week? I really need to start buying some expensive stuff before I lose the right to call myself an American. This is also the case for playing World of Warcraft -- the money you blow on your subscription or transferring your characters to your friends' servers is easily made back because you stop spending money in every other arena of social entertainment.Girl learns hard lesson of sales
Fears raised over "Glastonbury" royal camp
The magic of North Korea: a disappearing plane
List Day: Whatever Happened To...
- Minecraft: I haven't logged into the Minecraft server since Christmas time, when I wrote "HO HO" on the beach in dirt blocks, but ran out of resources for a third HO (this also does not bode well for my hip-hop career). I played this game long past the point where it was fun, at Snood addiction levels, and burnt out completely on it. I also think it's a little obnoxious that it won so many awards when it's not even done yet -- where's the incentive to finish your game development? Finally, I believe Minecraft may have exacerbated my nearsightedness, although this isn't a recognized medical prognosis.
- Interactive Fiction: After updating Augmented Fourth two years ago, I actually dusted off the source code for my incomplete game, Robin Caruso, my dramatic magnum opus whose plot twists were all eventually stolen by Castaway, LOST, and Fight Club. The problem was that it was about 60% done and written in the old language, Inform 6. I wanted to learn the new language, Inform 7, but porting the half-finished code into a brand new language would have been more boring than writing a brand new game.
- My Wisdom Teeth: I have a new dentist at the intersection of 7100 and Elden Street who is immediately better than the previous two, because he doesn't try to sell me tooth whitener, and he doesn't milk my insurance by making me schedule separate inspections and cleanings when it's been more than a year since my last visit. My teeth have not shifted a whit in 5 years, and the smart ones are still in the back, hanging out. I am also 31-years-cavity-free.
- The median sign on Church Road: It was broken this morning -- people continue to run it over and city works continues to put up new ones. If people run over your "go around the median" sign over 10 times in a year, that's your cue to either reinforce them with spiked concrete and gunpowder, or replace it with a final sign that says "run me over, we don't care anymore".
- Name That Tune contests: I think I've exhausted the spectrum of Name That Tune ideas, unless someone can come up with a way to smell music. Maybe I'll repost the lip-sync contest on YouTube one of these days for nostalgia's sake.
Poker bots invade online gambling
Landslide closes picturesque Highway 1
Corned Beef Day in the URI! Household
Times online pay model was years in the making
4-year-old's Ivy League chances are ruined
Stuff In My Drawers Day: Name That Tune Lip-Sync
For anyone that didn't get to play the first time around, here are the ten excerpts from my 2009 Name That Tune contest (you'll need to visit the site if you're reading this from a feed reader). See if it's still as hard as it was back then!
Sammy Hagar abducted by aliens
Putin frolics with Olympic snow leopard
Memory Day: Old Snapshots
This image was taken on Halloween in 1990. In this year, I was some sort of hybrid wizard / warrior. I was not necessarily trying to be a battle mage -- I probably just couldn't decide which costume to commit to. We were never allowed to buy costumes (since it's economically inefficient to spend money just for 1/365th of a year) so all of our ideas had to come from pieces around the house.
The hat / helm is construction paper, and the pendant is from my mom's jewelry box. The wooden sword with bagtie holster was made by the next-door neighbour of my grandparents, and had a long life until my ADHD friend, Tony, smashed it against a tree. On my left arm is a shield made out of a wicker paper plate holder. It was sure to deflect many attacks, both magical and physical.
Battle mages also wear Kanga ROOS.Dubai on Empty
Capitalism may have ended life on Mars
Angry San Antonio Taco Bell customer fires at officers
There are no spoilers in these reviews.
The Office, Season Three:
The third season of The Office introduces the characters from the Stamford branch to keep things fresh. There is a tendency to overuse Ed Helms, who's really only funny in small doses, but the pairing of his character with that of Dwight Schrute makes for some good comedy. As usual, the deleted scenes are almost as good as the final cuts, and some episodes have nearly as many deleted scenes as actual run time.
Final Grade: B+
Hi, How Are You Today? by Ashley MacIsaac:
I first heard Sleepy Maggie on XM last year around St. Patrick's Day, and picked up this CD to provide additional Irish ambience to our St. Patrick's Day dinner. It's an interesting mix of celtic and rock (crock), with a few more traditional sounding fiddle pieces thrown in. It's not a CD you'd want to listen to every day in the car, but it's a fresh change of pace.
Final Grade: B
Surveillance robots know when to hide
Fruit flies could hold the key to Internet future
Our new kitchen cabinets and countertop have been ordered. As you can see from the image, we're going for a pure 1950s look: all black and white with minimal shading.South Korea identified as prime bacon waster
Judge upholds title loss for taco queen
Obituary: No flowers, just beat Obama
After a warm, indoors Movie Night on Friday (a reairing of Music and Lyrics), we ventured out of Sterling on Saturday to visit Kathy & Chris' new daughter, Hannah, who came into the world just four hours after our visit last Friday night for Game Night. If we were going to be a mathematical proof, we would no doubt be "The Induction of Labor".
Following baby time, we grabbed a quick lunch at Subway and then headed for Hemlock Overlook Park for a nice four-mile hike around Bull Run. Thankfully, my toenails did not turn black this time, but I do have to wonder how long it will take the black parts from my last hike to grow away. At the end of our hike, we stumbled upon a new winery, Paradise Springs, just feet from the park entrance, and had a tasting. We liked one of the wines, but the others were pretty unmemorable.
In the evening, we made pork chops (check back tomorrow for the recipe), and rewatched Moulin Rouge so Rebecca could decide if it was still lame. I don't think her opinion deviated too far in either direction.
On Sunday, I caught up on some work while Rebecca went to a "tools for girls" party that involved trowels and spades, rather than the more racy tools one might expect. I wrote some code, watched some of Weeds, Season Six, and played a little Warcraft.
How was your weekend?The Accidental Activist
Genius at work: 12-year-old is studying at IUPUI
Amoebas: Sexier than anyone knew
Recipe Day: Latin Pork Chops
- 4 bone-in pork lion chops (3/4" inch)
- olive oil (with extra virgins)
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon chile powder
- salt and pepper to taste
- Crush the coriander in the mortar and pestle you received as a wedding gift but never have a chance to use. Mix it with the other spices in a wide bowl to make the rub.
- Lightly coat the pork chops with olive oil and rub the rub on the grub.
- Heat a grill up to medium heat and rub down the rack with olive oil.
- Grill the pork chops for four minutes per side, flipping them once.
- Serve with rice and salsa and a bottle of 13.9% alcohol viognier.
Dirt: the Filthy Reality of Everyday Life
The Pentagon and Its Bogus Bomb-Zapper: A Love Story
Memory Day: Snapshots
This picture was taken in 1988 at a fair full of balloon penises.
Actually, given my penchant for Ultima at the time, I had probably requested a sword, but I don't know why my sister would have wanted a dagger. I'm wearing my ugly James K. Polk Elementary School sweatshirt, with mascot art that looks like a cross between a Siamese cat and an alien (definitely not a wise old owl). My sister is on the cutting edge of late 80s fashion, with a sweatshirt that could double as a fat person's smock, and Keds with the laces taken out.Whistle-blowing witch grounded by TSA
Broken heart burns like hot coffee
Tanzanian 'miracle' pastor Mwasapile calls for a break
End of the Month Media Day
Many new pictures have been added to the Life, 2011 album. Enjoy!
I will be traveling to Arkansas tomorrow for a wedding, so updates will resume next week, probably on Tuesday. Have a great weekend!Burmese pythons win against the cold
Secret X-37B Space Plane Spotted Again by Amateur Skywatchers
Bellaire Man Found Stuck in Chair Dies at 43
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