This Day In History: 04/23

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Booty came in on little cat feet today. She sat looking at me on silent haunches and then moved on.

Some sort of military plane flew directly over my apartment around noon today. It couldn't have been more than three hundred yards off the ground, judging from my deep knowledge of jet engines and sound physics. It scared the bejeezus out of the cat though.

This must be what they teach in HeadStart
What are you supposed to do when a cow catches fire?
New Techniques in Relationship Communication
First on the list if Sobol ever writes "Five-Hundred-and-Two Minute Mysteries"

tagged as cats | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, April 23, 2004

This coming weekend is the first one in over two and a half months with no major construction-y projects planned, so I'll probably take it easy and putter around the house. There'll be a small Poker Night tonight, and a new Alias on Sunday (only 3 episodes left in the season!). In my spare time, I've started studying for the Sun Java Certification Exam in earnest, and also resurrected my Caravan Assault map in anticipation of the next Warcraft patch.

Yesterday's notable search terms:

    garbage that brian uri leaves, teenage prostitution problem is mounting, recital program of a brass composer, da vinci stealing body parts, augmented fourth game hints

Boy suspended for peanut butter exposure threat
Horny rhino hits on car

permalink | 0 comments

Monday, April 23, 2007

Weekend Wrap-Up

On Friday night, Eleanor came over for a play-date with Booty, and brought her mom, Anna, along because I cannot be trusted to chaperone. We had Boston Market for dinner, watched some ancient episodes of Friends, had a few Dos Equis, and played the crazy Wario game on the Wii. Eleanor totally farted on my couch, then passed out in a sleepy stupor from all the beer and rock music. Later on, we heard that Anna's sister, Emily, is now engaged. Congratulations!

On Saturday morning, I went on a whirlwind shopping tour of Shoppers Food Warehouse, Home Depot, Petsmart, Target, and Costco (a practice run in case I ever get called on to appear in a reality show about a yuppy scavenger hunt). Besides Q-Tips, insoles, cat food, and lunch meat, I bought two new pairs of glasses that look shockingly different than the frames I've worn in the past (see Figure A to the right which shows the crappy old frames next to the sleek new frames like one of those dieting advertisements, but for glasses).

I had a massive pot of Velveeta Shells and Cheese for lunch and then baked some chocolate chip cookies for Poker Night. Half of these cookies, I took across the street to the new neighbours who have been busy painting their new house for the past two weeks. They'll be a nice addition to The Court for two reasons: they're reasonably young, and they speak English (the language of kings, at least kings from England). I've shared a driveway with two Hispanic guys for the past three years and the only thing they've ever said was hola, which I believe is Spanish for that artificial fat substitute in potato chips that causes anal leakage.

There weren't quite enough people for a rousing game of poker, so we decided to turn it into Pictionary night instead -- specifically, the new version of Pictionary with special challenges like "draw with your eyes closed" and "hold the pencil in your armpit". We ate Philly cheesesteak pizza, listened to Eleanor fart some more, and reminisced about the time Mike Catania fouled the guy on the Maxx Attack team while on the 0-16 FSU Music Theory basketball team to avenge Mark Connor's honour.

On Sunday, My dad and I laid the ceramic tile in the hall bathroom. The adhesive is now dry and today is Grout Day (where we read excerpts from A History of Western Music by Donald Grout to the floor and teach it that repetition is the key to Western Music). I'm planning on keeping the toilet in the bathtub permanently, because everyone poops in the tub, even though no one likes to talk about it.

What did you do this weekend?

Crazed hare on the loose
Please do not stare at chimps
Century-old fish caught in Alaska

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 6 comments

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Euro-tic Adventure, Part III of X

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Day Three of our adventure began with a bum knee -- my own. It started hurting halfway through day two, but I merely attributed it to being out of practice with walking extended distances (besides, in Warcraft, you can turn on auto-run and forget about it). By today, it was obvious that I had sprained a joint or something in my right knee, even though there was no specific event that triggered it, like a fall down the Wellington Arch or getting kicked by a midget. For the next week and a half or so, I walked in various states of cripply goodness, and on this last day in London, I was forced to walk with my right leg completely straight, no doubt looking like a modern American peglegged pirate and greatly embarassing my travelmate.

However, I refused to let a gimp knee ruin the vacation, so we did even MORE walking than the previous days as a nice F-U to the frailties of the human body. We wandered through a market near the Charing Cross Tube station and then toured the British Transport Museum, which (amazingly) was the first and ONLY tourist attraction we actually paid for in London. This museum was great, detailing the evolution of transportation in London from the city's origins, including boats, horses, carriages, trains, the Tube, and the double-decker buses. It took us about three hours to look at all the exhibits and mess around with the hands-on stuff. We also tried to hit the Theatre Museum, but it had moved to the other end of the city.

After a morning of touring, we had a fresh hand-tossed pizza made by a genuine Italian in the market and then started a new walking tour, crisscrossing the Thames multiple times via the Waterloo Bridge, Blackfriar's Bridge, and the Millenium Pedestrian Bridge. We stumbled into a free showing of David Noton's travel photography in the Oxo Tower, browsed used books in an outdoor used book lot, and took pictures of St. Paul's Cathedral and the London Bridge. We never made it out to the Tower of London, but were quite happy with the things we did see.

In the evening, we went to Hyde Park and wandered around, but the chill meant that few people were out and about. We did get interviewed by a couple of foreign film students who were trying to gauge peoples' first impressions of their countries (Columbia = DRUGS), and then walked back to our neighbourhood near Victoria Station for giant pub burgers at the Marquis of Westminster. Following pints of London Pride and the strains of Morrissey over the radio, we grabbed some newspapers and returned to the hotel for an early night in.

London is inundated with free newspapers and minorities at every Tube station trying to hand out as many as possible. One of the papers that everyone reads is the Metro, a paper that is already slightly famous on this website for the number of funny news links it provides (including these two classics with excellent supporting graphics and captions ). Reading it in London was as exciting as any museum tour, and almost like meeting an old friend for the very first time. After catching up with the current whereabouts of Victoria Beckham (in a mall), and happily reading nothing at all about Obama and Clinton, we hit the sack, ready to tackle our next city.



Friday, April 4, 2008

The next morning, we took the high-speed train from London to Paris in a mere two and a half hours (though we were greatly tantalized by the direct train to Euro Disneyland, complete with a welcoming band in the station playing Disney tunes). Because the train travelled at 186 miles per hour, we didn't see much in the way of scenery, but we did enjoy a swank first-class cabin (if you are over 26, you MUST ride first-class). The train dumped us at Gare du Nord and we immediately took the Metro to our hotel in the 20th district. Having just come from the Tube, the Paris Metro was smelly and crowded, and the tickets were way too tiny and easy to confuse with used tickets. At some of the transfer stations, you easily walk a half mile underground, to the point where it was more efficient to just walk the six blocks above ground rather than try to catch another train.

This was my opportunity to put my high school French to good use (now 13 years outdated), and if they didn't understand me, I figured I could just fall back on Alizee lyrics and maybe do the Alizee/Night Elf dance as a distraction . This was more important in our hotel district, which was off the beaten tourist path, so fewer residents spoke English. We survived our initial move-in though, getting a cozy and clean room by an old-fashioned elevator that can barely fit a single American buttock, and then had giant Greek sandwiches at a little Iranian deli around the corner. Ordering here was much more frantic, but the waitress (who spoke no English at all) took pity on us and made sure we had everything we needed.

With food in our bellies, we decided that the first thing to see in Paris would be the Eiffel Tower. It was an unseasonably warm day, and billions of tourists were there, but we got to the second level after only a thirty minute wait (which seriously made us feel like we were at King's Dominion). The very top floor was closed because of high winds, but we could see plenty from where we were. Paris is pretty impressive from above, except for the ridculously ugly Montparnasse Building which ruins the scenic skyline.

The afternoon was spent having ice cream in the park, getting accosted by all manner of merchants and sketch artists, getting lost on the Metro and ending up on one of the suburban RER trains (it turns out they're pretty much the same as normal Metro trains except the seats are more comfy) and then stumbling into the Latin Quarter. This neighbourhood was a maze of tiny streets and millions of restaraunteurs trying to convince us to eat dinner, with crepe makers, beggars, and all manner of people crowded together.

Later, we got drinks near the Sorbonne, paying far too much for our wine (12 euros for two glasses, when a bottle in a local supermarket costs 2 - 6 euros) and regretting it afterwards. This was one of only two bad deals on the trip though, and it was fun to crowd into a cafe and people-watch.

As night fell, so did the temperature, and our unseasonable warmth vanished for the remainder of our Paris sojourn. For kicks, we decided to take a night tour of Paris from a river boat, and enjoyed the sights in spite of the frigid winds. The French keep the Eiffel Tower lit up all night long which looks mildly corny, but this is exacerbated by the timed glitter effects -- every few minutes, the lights start flickering and blinking like an out of control Las Vegas floor show. When the boat stopped an hour later, we were thoroughly frozen, and returned to our hotel district. We wandered into a local grocery store a bought a bottle of wine, some cheese, some bread, and a corkscrew for a mere 8 euros ($12) total and then retired to our room for a late dinner and a showing of Les Simpsons (5MB WMV).

To Be Continued tomorrow...

Do you have any questions about our trip? Things I've forgotten to mention? Let me know in the Comments section!

Porn star unveils campaign weapon
Nerd proposes with Bejeweled
Citizen issues a parking ticket to a cop

tagged as travel | permalink | 3 comments

Thursday, April 23, 2009

New Feature Day: Birthdays, the SQL

Buoyed on the tidal wave of positive feedback for the Birthdays feature, I've expanded it with two new perks:

  1. At the bottom of the Birthdays panel is a "more" link which will take you to a complete list of all the hundreds of birthdays I've collected.
  2. If a birthday person has a Facebook account, you can now click on their name to visit their profile, where you can leave any birthday wishes you'd like. Since many souls don't necessarily visit my site on a daily basis or AT ALL, this will have to suffice until The URI! Zone, like Catholicism, takes over the world.

Currently, only birthdays in April and May have had their Facebook accounts connected, but I'll be sure to add the rest as their birthdays approach. If you think some birthdays are missing that deserve to be listed, please let me know.

You may have noticed the site going up and down a couple times yesterday -- this was me testing the new features, because as everyone knows, the only hardcore way to test a beta feature is on a live site that affects millions of users. Since I was busy doing that yesterday, I did not get to write a new update for today, so I'll end with a few fun birthday facts culled from this tottering Jenga tower of data in my database.

What is the most popular month to make babies in?

Currently, May has the most birthays, and February has the least, which means that your parents were the most amorous in September when the kids went back to school and they regained some privacy, and the least amorous in June at the start of summer vacation.

Which birthdate is the most popular?

April 27th, which is just around the corner, squeaks ahead with five people having birthdays.

Who's the eldest of them all?

Dr. Allen Bachelder wins the prize with a 1939 birthday!

Interested in any other unseen facets of the birthdays that I might be able to expose through a SQL database query? Ask in the Comments section!

New Rules for Russia's Cops: No Bribes or Wild Sex
Bionic penguins take to the water
Chewing gum leads to higher scores

tagged as website | permalink | 7 comments

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Fragments: Photo Edition


Lazy

Needs shelf space

Mowed

Reading

Cute

Released

Thawing

Delicious
Prostitute propositions police chief
School lunches a threat to national security
Police find suspect neck-deep in manure

tagged as fragments, media | permalink | 5 comments

Monday, April 23, 2012

Weekend Wrap-up

This weekend was open beta weekend for Diablo 3, which gave everyone the privilege of trying and failing to login to overloaded servers. I reconnected with some old friends who are still inexplicably playing World of Warcraft regularly. It brought back memories from twelve years ago, when I first started working at FGM (upon the release of Diablo 2) and my officemate, Rick, would open every day by itemizing all of the loot that he had gathered the previous night.

My plan to mow the lawn on Saturday was thwarted by the rainstorm. Rainstorms are procrastination personified -- they get you out of yard work, but then the grass is twice as high and harder to mow by the time the ground dries out. On Saturday night, we went to Frank's (of Frank and Amanda) birthday party in Oakton. Rebecca was amazed that most of the guys were talking about Diablo 3, so I had to give her a nerd anthropology lesson on how the previous game was released in the life sweet spot where all guys were majoring in social ineptitude in college.

On Sunday night, we ate three cheese pizza and watched another episode of Boardwalk Empire, yet another HBO show where all of the characters look the same and new ones continue to get introduced. It's entertaining so far, but it's no The Wire.

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 2 comments

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Stuff In My Drawers Day

My audition form from All-District Band tryouts in 7th grade, or "best ways to burn a young musician when you're in the Army band but have to spend the weekend slumming as an audition judge to pay the rent."

tagged as memories, music | permalink | 3 comments

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Time-lapsed Blogography Day

Eighteen years ago today, on April 23, 1996, I was a senior in high school. My first stop after driving to school was the homeroom of one of my crushes, to thoughtfully drop off some physics notes for bonus nice points. I don't know how kids today stalk their crushes (probably a GPS app), but back then, knowledge of a girl's homeroom was painstakingly gained through hall wandering and triangulation. Probably fifty percent of a teenager's brainwaves were dedicated to learning locker locations, travel paths between classes, and phone numbers.

I didn't go too any of my morning classes, because the jazz band took a field trip to Hammond Middle School for a double-feature assembly. I played a few good improvised solos for the youngsters, who were also impressed by the original composition, Bubba's Fried Chicken Stand.

We got back to school during fourth period, but naturally we had to take fifth period off to catch up on lunch. Since we also had seventh period concert band off because of our super strenuous assemblies, I breezed through a boring class of Calculus with Mr. Kokonis and then headed down to the boathouse early for crew, spending about an hour sitting in my car listening to a tape of Doc Severinsen and the Tonight Show Band.

The Potomac River was the roughest it had ever been in my crew career that day, with whitecaps and the wind blowing from the southeast at 29 knots. I knew the exact speed, because there used to be a weather/boating phone number you could call from your rotary phone to get Potomac weather conditions. It was always voiced by a meteorologist who seemed pissed off to get stuck with forecast recording duty yet incapable of reading more than two words at a time, not unlike a drill sergeant with a brain tumor. "WIND SOUTH. TEN KNOTS. USE CARE. ON THE WAT. ER."

Because the water was so bad, my rowers just worked on the ergs while I surreptitiously observed the girls doing their workouts on the other side of the exercise room.

I got home around 4 PM that day to learn that I had won the $1000 Band Booster scholarship (not a big surprise since my name was on all of the plaques in all of the hallways everywhere), which bookended nicely with the $1000 Computer Science scholarship I had won the day before from Tech. Today, those amounts would probably buy a meal at the high-end athletes-only dining hall.

Later on, there was almost drama when I learned that I had to attend the scholarship awards ceremony in order to get it, in spite of the fact that it conflicted with the world premiere of The Admiral's Overture. The powers that be did not see any irony in denying me for a music scholarship because I was busy doing music, and I had to flurry between events like politician to get all of the moneys.

tagged as memories | permalink | 1 comment

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Review Day: Far Cry 4

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

In my review of Far Cry 3 a year and a half ago, I stated that the game earned a lot of good will from how fun it was to play, in spite of a host of flaws and annoyances. That game threw everything at you, amped up to 11, with the things that worked heavily outweighing the more forgettable features.

Far Cry 4 is essentially a reskinned version of the previous game, and is a prime example of taking excess to extremes. It may take place during a modern civil war in southeast Asia instead of a modern civil war on a Caribbean island, but the underlying framework of wandering around an open world shooting things and blowing other things up will be exactly as you remembered it, both the good and the bad.

The biggest flaw is that there's simply too much to do, but not enough depth in any activity to result in meaningful gameplay. Within a gaming session, you might conquer an enemy fortress, craft upgrades for your loot bags, hunt snow leopards, protect villagers from honey badgers, learn skills that turn enemy takedowns into Quick Time Events, explore Tibetan caves, hang glide off mountain summits, disarm bombs, hijack supply convoys, craft syringes to boost combat skills, escort trucks through enemy fire, experiment with illegal drugs for the local stoners, find rare pelts for the village fashion designer, climb a radio tower, engage in timed races in various vehicles, or fight through a dream sequence involving a magical tiger in order to fly through the air and spin a prayer wheel.

Any perceived depth is a mirage, as you end up repeating these activities many, many times. It might be cool to see the emergent behavior of a lion stalking a herd of deer the first time, but the randomness loses its allure when an eagle soars out of the sky to attack you for the tenth time in an hour. Completionists (like myself) will hit a bout of gaming fatigue about 50% of the way through. The game would have been immensely better if they had pared down the scope of features, and refined a few of the best ones.

Oh, and a tip for your first playthrough: Don't buy the "Wingsuit" that lets you soar off a mountainside and deploy a parachute. You'll inadvertently deploy it while jumping down very small hills (don't all former WoW players jump to get everywhere?) and die from a 1 foot drop because the game expects you to deploy your parachute before touching the ground. My character died more often from fall damage than Princess Rosella in King's Quest IV.

Graphically, the series continues to excel, although I finally reached the point where I had to turn down my settings to keep the framerate responsive. The snowy mountain valley locale is well-realized, and driving around the countryside is great for a free vacation in your mind. The story is passably good enough to tie it all together, and the villain is fun and well-characterized (although the protagonist has the personality of a soup ladle). There are choices to be made during the course of the plot, but they didn't really have any major effect on the outcome. Unfortunately, the developers did nothing to correct the "unskippable ten minute cutscene" syndrome from the previous game.

UPlay, the social gaming service required to run this, is still unnecessary and stupid, and always will be.

The bottom line is that this is one of those games you wait to buy until it's under $20 in a Steam Sale. You'll get a solid, enjoyable 20 hours of entertainment out of it, and will not feel guilty in the least bit about never completing the last 30 - 40 hours of it.

Final Grade: B-

tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments

Monday, April 23, 2018

Stuff in My Drawers Day: Scouting in Alexandria

Back in 1993 when local cable access channels were still a thing and Jones Intercable had not yet been bought out by Comcast, the show, Scouting in Alexandria was featured in an article in the Alexandria Gazette Packet.

I did very little with this show other than to get interviewed once about my Eagle Scout badge although I did attend a few editing sessions when it was an "Explorer Post", turning knobs and splicing VHS tapes like a pro. This participation gradually petered out after I couldn't find anyone willing to give me a ride to the studio on a regular basis.

tagged as memories | permalink | 0 comments

Friday, April 23, 2021

Tech Primer Day

Now available for public download is the 10-issue Uri Tech Primer, which I wrote at work to help explain what my company does and why it matters. If you've ever heard a phrase like "cloud" or "machine learning" and want an intro that's more interesting than a Wikipedia entry, this one's for you.

You can learn more and download the PDF (18 MB) on the company blog.

tagged as buriversity, teaching | permalink | 0 comments

 

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