This Day In History: 04/16

Tuesday, April 16, 2002

There's a couple good recitals coming up at Tech this week. If you live in the area, you'll want to check them out. On Wednesday, 4/17, Jason Price will be giving a guest trumpet recital. He's an amazing trumpet player who graduated from Tech around '98 or so and probably should be finishing up at Eastman sometime soon, or already. After that, Doobie's tuba recital will be (I kid you not) on 4/20 in the afternoon.

While looking for information about the Audubon Quartet (the string quartet that used to be in residency at Virginia Tech), I came across a website detailing their ongoing legal disputes from the past few years. This open letter will be very interesting to anyone who's ever played in a small group where one of the members was universally disliked. To me, it's a case of a kid trying to take the sandbox home with him, but of course, I don't know all the details .

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Wednesday, April 16, 2003

I've been hired on to do a manuscript transcription of a violin sonata for one of the music faculty which should keep me out of trouble for a week or two. The manuscript is fairly neat, but all the notes that are beamed down have the beams on the wrong side of the note, no doubt because it's from London.

The Winds concert last night was pretty good. I don't understand why modern American composers have to make everything sound like crap. It's okay to write a triad or two on occasion -- everything doesn't have to be a dissonance.

TNN changing its name to Spike to cater to male viewers. CNN will follow suit with BeerNugget in 2004.
Cog: Behind the Scenes
Cog movie
It's a good week for love shacks.
Terminator for Governor

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Friday, April 16, 2004

Kill Bill, Vol. 1 was the movie of choice last night. It was occasionally entertaining but mostly stupid, and reeked of overwrought Tarantino. It's apparent that he was given free reign on editing with the movie split into two parts, since he obviously didn't cut a single drawn out scene from the mix. I bet he could have easily cut this into a better, well-paced movie the length of a Lord of the Rings segment. The movie had some good tunes, as is typical of Tarantino, but for every good one there was one with annoyingly inane lyrics or obnoxious whistling and grating sound effects.

For the record, I liked Reservoir Dogs but didn't much care for Pulp Fiction. I'm also glad Tarantino didn't decide to star in this one, because it's one less round of him chewing on scenery to deal with.

Yesterday's notable search terms:

    jennie geisner, robin caruso, cattlebruiser reports, camelback spider

Lingerie Football series to be reality?
Adult Happy Meals
Parking ticket issued to heart attack victim

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Monday, April 16, 2007

By the People, For the People

Several years ago, one of the major networks created a documentary about the lives and habits of Nielsen families, those lovable anonymous folks who agree to have all their television habits monitored to determine how many people are actually wasting their lives watching American Idol instead of a PBS special on the Battle of Your Bulge. In a stroke of brilliance, the network aired this documentary during Sweeps Week, and (not surprisingly) every Nielsen family tuned in hoping to catch a glimpse of themselves, sending the scores through the roof.

The URI! Zone does not get any advertising dollars for your continuing visits, but I recognize the usefulness of posting stories pertinent to the audience (stay tuned next week for a Celebrity Deathmatch between Kelley Corbett and Mike Catania, acted out with cats). For today's update, I essentially stole the words out of your mouths -- four and a half years of comments, both inane and profound. I started poking through these comments on Sunday, in hopes of finding a few choice whits of wit, and ended up reading the entire script, from the liberal diatribes of Rachel, to the grammar validation of Finicky, to the non sequitor tangents of Tree before he decided to boycott the site.

If you are bored at work today, or just in the mood for a leisurely dose of nostalgia, flip to a random section of the comments and see if you can remember the post that brought them about (every post is linked for your viewing convenience, but no peeking until you turn in your papers!)

Read what you had to say:

2003 (43 KB)
2004 (87 KB)
2005 (349 KB)
2006 (408 KB)
2007 (80 KB)

Here are some highlights if you actually do work at your job, and cannot be bothered to stop and smell the comments.

Readers Can Be Funny

March 30, 2004: Helping Mike move out
August 19, 2005: Aussies don't know what turkey bacon is
August 31, 2005: Why music is like sausage
September 7, 2005: FSU / VT trash talking
January 17, 2006: Readers hate musicals
February 22, 2006: 222, Pregnancy, and Marching Band
May 8, 2006: Shac thinks Rachel sweats my jock
August 11, 2006: Brianne wants a viola piece
December 29, 2006: Doobie and Otis dialogue

Readers Can Be Interesting

October 13, 2005: Two Things About You
January 11, 2006: Solving Sudoku With a Computer
January 24, 2006: Anna should live with a guy
February 1, 2006: Four Things About You
February 8, 2006: Sleeping Through Class

Readers Can Be SERIOUS. SERIOUSLY.

December 18, 2003: The gay marriage amendment
February 4, 2004: Giving more money to NASA
March 4, 2004: Bong buyer's in deep trouble, Chompy
October 7, 2004: The Apathy party is a bunch of douchebags
September 2, 2005: Rachel on New Orleans
December 14, 2005: Rachel on Driving
May 15, 2006: Flex Time at work

Post some of your favourite quotes in today's comments section!

Police plan to speak to all 200 revelers
The crocodile is armed
Florida Panty Snatcher passes away

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

8:35 AM: Waking up in our unexpectedly posh hotel room.

9:44 AM: Making the half mile walk to the train station in our little suburb (because all the hotels in the Old City were booked up).

10:29 AM: Wandering down the Ramblas, watching all the street performers and living statues.

11:00 AM: Barcelona looks a lot like California. Now I know why Sydney Bristow went to Spain all the time -- it was easy to film.

11:37 AM: Looking up at the main Cathedral, which was closed for renovations (a recurring theme in much of the city).

12:07 PM: Eating tapas for lunch. Our trip mascot, Pierre the French Poodle, tries out the octopus salad.

12:44 PM: In the Boquiera marketplace where you could see fresh fish and meat in various states of bloody hacking.

2:07 PM: At the Sagrada Familia, which is Catalon for "Big Ass Unfinished Church of Ridiculous Height"

4:38 PM: In Parc Guell, enjoying the sunny afternoon.

5:08 PM: From the top of the Parc, we had a panoramic view of the city. This particular building is covered in LED lights and lights up in millions of colour combinations at night. The guidebooks used every word to describe it except for the obvious ones.

7:31 PM: Back in the Old City, we had seafood paella for dinner and multiple Damms.

9:18 PM: Tourist Tip: No matter which country you're in, you can always pee for free at Burger King.

See more 12 of 12ers at Chad's site !

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Review Day

There are no spoilers in these reviews.

Slumdog Millionaire (R):
Rebecca and I watched this a couple weeks ago and enjoyed it a lot, she more than I. I felt like it was a perfectly agreeable movie, but a little too overhyped for what it was. The movie tells the story of a poor Indian fellow who ends up doing amazingly well on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Suspected of being a cheater, he tells the stories behind how he knew each answer through flashback.

Final Grade: B+

Traveling Light by Courtney Jaye:
This was a Pandora recommendation, and features a strong singer with catchy slightly-country songs. I haven't listened to this CD as much as the other two reviewed today, but it's pleasant to have on, even if none of the songs have stuck out yet as memorable. You can listen to online samples here -- #2 is the song I heard on Pandora.

Final Grade: B

One Cell in the Sea by A Fine Frenzy:
This CD is the reason I've devoted less time to the others, since it's been playing in my car all week long. Fine (or Ms. Frenzy if you aren't tight with her as I am) focuses on whimsical, dreamy lyrics and harmonic textures in her songs (somewhat like Ingrid Michaelson's arrangements) and has two distinct singing voices: one that's richly wispy and another that's bright and clear, reminiscent of Nelly Furtado. Sometimes her clear voice is a little too shrill, but this is only noticeable in a couple songs. The song, You Picked Me is well-constructed and well-performed, and a strong contender for my 2009 songs of the year. You can listen to online samples here -- My favourites include #1, #4, #5, #6, and #10.

Final Grade: A-

Room Noises by Eisley:
You can immediately tell that Eisley is a young band -- this CD was their first back in 2005 when the siblings-turned-band were still high-school age. The singing isn't perfect, and they have the classic new composer problem of overusing certain textures (you don't have to sing in every moment of every song), but you can also tell that there are some great ideas in here that could germinate into something more as they mature. They're as whimsical as A Fine Frenzy, but more tempo-oriented. You can listen to online samples here -- I really like #10.

Final Grade: B-

Man bites python
Cop says oral sex to blame for drug test results
Farting on food leads to arrest

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Off Day

I'm taking the day off to make up for a dearth of weekend last weekend, and next week looks even busier. It looks like this weekend, at least, will be a good one, featuring a new car purchase, a little poker, and two parents getting a year older combined with food.

Today is also 4/16, but in my opinion, "Never Forget" should not be synonymous with "Spend a Whole Day Every Year Reliving It and Feeling Sad While Devoting Every Newspaper Inch and Facebook Update to It". Life is FINE. Go appreciate your loved ones instead.

Wii Fit leads to sexual arousal syndrome
Man assaulted with a python
Man goes for the ride of his life foiling beer bandits

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Weekend Wrap-up

I tried to have an extended weekend to make up for the insane amounts of work I'd done recently, but ultimately ended up working half days on Thursday and Friday anyhow. The attempted staycation began with a bang on Wednesday night, when I was leaving a suit-worthy meeting in McLean and my car was hit by a young girl who was texting while making a left turn across rush hour traffic. Fortunately, we were only moving about three miles per hour at the time, and though her car took the worst of it, she only managed to scratch up my hubcap and swivel my side mirror. The scuffs are so minimal that it really just looks like I loaned my car to a Maryland driver for an afternoon.

Since I needed my downtime to be as mindless as possible, I rotated through episodes of 24 featuring Kate "Incapable of Closing Her Mouth" Warner while on the treadmill, the nostalgia-inducing dungeon crawler, Legend of Grimrock, and the treadmill-like progression of Diablo 2.

On Saturday night, we went out to carefully-manicured Ashburn for seafood at Bonefish Grill. It was our first Bonefish experience and we came away quite satisfied. Afterwards, we played a new two-player card game called Jaipur, which is like Lost Cities with extra camels.

Sunday was full-on family time, with lunch at the Firefox Grill (nearly empty, as everyone had gone to the Chrome Grill) followed by a concert of the Annandale Brass at NOVA. Their "Afternoon of Americana" program opened with selections by Handel and Beethoven, so I'm guessing that our country has decided to claim them as our own.

How was your weekend?

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Recipe Day: Glazed Grilled Salmon

My general MO for recipes is to start from a legitimate recipe out of a dead-tree book or the Internet (usually with 10 or fewer ingredients) and then cut as many corners as possible to speed up the process without arriving at taste ruination. This grilled fish recipe ended up being a home run with very little effort. The glaze is a sweet-plus-salty caramelization with no crazy ingredients.

  • salmon fillets of even thickness, 3/4" - 1"
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • rice

Directions

  • Remove lingering bones from the fish. If any portion is much thinner than the rest, cut into a separate fillet and plan to cook the mini-fish for less time.
  • In a small bowl, thoroughly mix the soy sauce, sugar, oil, and water together.
  • Put salmon fillets into a freezer bag. Pour marinade into bag and marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes with the scales up. Begin cooking rice in the rice cooker that you really should own by now.
  • Preheat your grill for 10 minutes at the highest temperature, and scrape grill as smoothly as possible.
  • Grill scales up for 6 minutes without bothering it like a little brother. Flip and grill the other side for 4 minutes. Reduce time slightly for thinner fillets.
  • Remove from heat and let sit for a few minutes, scales down.
  • Flake meat away from scales with a fork and devour with rice.

Nutritional Content

  • Calories: Delicious
  • Fats: Omegas and Stuff

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Memory Day: Snapshots

Six years ago today, on April 16, 2008, we had just returned from Europe, where we adopted a French poodle named Pierre from Carcasonne. He was not welcome in Collioure, but traveled with us for the rest of the trip. He ate well and watched Full House in Catalan in our Barcelona hotel room.

After we arrived back in the States, Pierre found his forever home, living with Ella in Manassas!

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

The Book of Postfix by Ralf Hildebrandt and Patrick Koetter:
I purchased this as a PDF book when I was setting up my short-lived cloud mail server, after getting annoyed with the vast number of online tutorials that threw out a bunch of settings to change without actually explaining what those settings did. This book has a nice, consumable format, using one chapter to explain a concept and a follow-on chapter to provide common usage patterns. You are unlikely to be in its target audience, but it was just what I needed at the time.

Final Grade: B+

The 100, Season One:
If you can get through the obligatory CW show tropes (unnecessarily hot teenagers in various love polygons looking longingly at each other), this science fiction show finds its footing very quickly and actually becomes rather smartly written. I was hooked by about the fourth episode, and enjoyed the unexpected plot developments within this LOST meets Firefly meets Battlestar Galactica Without Annoying Cylon Sex Dream Sequences show. The main character is pretty unsympathetic and wooden (and the main love triangle is worthless), but the supporting cast (including Desmond from LOST and Sierra from Dollhouse) more than makes up for it. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B+

The IT Crowd, Season Two, Three, and Four:
The remaining 18 episodes of this show are hit-or-miss, with a continuing reliance on absurdity as a primary laugh generator. However, it's always charming and a few hilarious episodes such as "Are We Not Men?" in Season Three are well worth the price of admission. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B-

Sherlock, Season One:
This is a very well-done show, and a neat modern take on the subject matter. However, you need the attention span to be able to focus throughout each of the 3 ninety minute episodes. If you're like me, and married someone who consistently falls asleep at the 44 minute mark (which is perfect for primetime dramas on DVD), and then watch each episode at a rate of 1 per week, you'll find yourself losing the momentum and forgetting the rapid-fire details form the previous sections. As Evil Mike said a while back, treat it like a miniseries of movies rather than a show, and try to watch an episode in its entirety. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B+

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Monday, April 16, 2018

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Assassin's Quest by Robin Hobb:
The final book in the Farseer Trilogy outstays its welcome by being longer than the previous books but with less going on. What's sad is that there is a very fulfilling conclusion in the final pages of the book, but it feels almost like an afterthought. If that section had been expanded upon and the previous, repetitive sections of people walking somewhere and being sad had been trimmed by a good 25%, the book would have been much more satisfying.

Final Grade: C

The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale:
This is a fairly silly show (with one new episode released every Sunday) in which Joel McHale makes fun of clips from various reality TV shows and random famous guest stars stop by to do amateur skits and plug their new shows (essentially a reboot of The Soup from the E! network). The humor is hit-or-miss and the skits generally fall flat, but there are just enough hilarious clips to make it worth a watch. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B-

Black Mirror, Season Four:
The problem with this season is that there aren't enough new, thought-provoking ideas to build episodes around. Instead, this season felt more like the writers were exploring "What if we told other stories in the same worlds we had already created?" Over half the episodes dealt with the concept of the "cookie" that contained a person's consciousness, which is fine, but something we already explored in earlier episodes. The episode, USS Callister, is probably the best mix of fun and horror, and Metalhead is easily one of the worst episodes ever created. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B-

Colony, Season Two:
Perhaps I'm spoiled by quality shows with shorter, complete seasons (like Fargo), but I find Colony to suffer from a plodding, network pace in which new plot information is methodically spoonfed to allow for the show to possibly carry on for years. If the plots of the first two seasons (26 episodes) had been compressed into a single 20-episode season, it would be much more compelling. As it is, I worry that the show is going to pull a LOST on me (a real danger since the creator of LOST is also the creator of this). Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B-

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Friday, April 16, 2021

Review Day: Doom: Eternal

I bought DOOM: Eternal in a Steam sale a few weeks back (just in time for the first weekend that Maia spent away from us in over a year) and dove right now. I found it better than its predecessor but suffering from many of the same flaws. I considered DOOM (2016) to be flawed but fun: it was enjoyable to run around killing things in the game and a good fan service from the original 90s series. However, I never actually finished that game because I'm a completionist: I hated missing secrets and having to replay levels to get them, or continuously try the minigame challenges over and over without success.

This new iteration feels a little less like the mindless fun of the originals, as careful resource management is required during a run to balance health, armor, and ammo. It also features an overwhelming number of weapons, weapon mods, and upgrades, all of which are thrown at you in the course of a single level near the beginning of the game. After being interrupted by the 20th screen describing a new technique I was supposed to learn, I almost stopped playing.

However, soldiering through that point is worth it -- I ended up focusing on a few of my favourite weapons and upgrades and ignoring the rest and had a great time all the way to the end. The game is at its best in the chaotic monster arenas where you get into a ballet-like flow of dancing around and blowing things up. The load times are also insanely fast (at least on an SSD) making deaths tolerable, and the framerate on the excellent graphics is rock solid at high detail levels.

Less positive are the numerous jumping puzzles that are interwoven through the arenas -- they're not hard, just tedious. The game also has a new defensive monster, the Marauder, who's easy to beat when following a pattern but breaks the hypnotic, kinetic "flow" so badly that the game is actually less fun when it's around. The story and cutscenes are unnecessary -- I skipped all of them after the first couple of levels.

Overall, this is a great single-player shooter that will give you a solid 20 hours of fun. I liked it enough on normal difficulty that I'll play it again on a harder level, at least until new children reduce my game time back to 0 again.

Final Grade: B

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