This Day In History: 06/20

Monday, June 20, 2005

Anna and Ben are all married up, following a perfect ceremony and day in scenic Colonial Beach. As of this morning, they're on their way to Jamaica for a week, after which Anna will be moving in with Ben in their townhouse in Manassas. More and more people are getting engaged or married these days -- maybe I should look into getting me one o' those.

I finished my book over the weekend. The previous book was almost dragged down by the weight of its theme but in hindsight, it really was a necessary step in the evolution of the story. This one is much more tightly knit and really sets up well for the finale of the 3rd arc (Book 5 of 5 of Arc 3 of 5!). It's still disappointing to be four books into this story arc and not have a concrete conclusion, but you can immediately tell that all of the unresolved issues to date are swirling together for an excellent finish.

Finally for today's update, I'd like to point out that this is the worst bit of spin ever produced by the Bush administration . Of all the excuses they could invent to dismiss the continued non-capture of Bin Laden, "We know where he is but we respect other countries' borders too much" is easily the hand that should have folded on the flop. Why couldn't they come up with something that would at least support their current useless agenda, like "We knew exactly where he was but John Kerry leaked the information to the North Koreans and they airlifted him into Iran."?

From the "President almost chokes but is fine" important news bin
Mom's yearbook request expands the viewing audience from hundreds to millions

permalink | 1 comment

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Barbeques and Home Base

With the summer comes that traditional American pastime: the outdoor barbeque. This is the time when you sit on the porch with all the people you never see, drinking beer and eating hot dogs while surrounded by billions of small children and house flies. It's the only time of year you'll play an outdoor sport like volleyball or frisbee, despite living next to a field or keeping the net up all year-round, and it's the occasion to let the guy who thinks he knows how to grill take charge of the meat products so he can look outwardly put upon, while secretly enjoying himself.

I already have a barbeque slated for each of the next two weekends, and another at the end of July. I'll probably want to have one myself when a free weekend avails itself, so I can use up the rest of my propane before it decays into an unstable radioactive element and I can get rid of my bulk frozen burgers. On a tangent, a great meal for one when you don't feel like putting forth much effort is to cook a hamburger patty in a frying pan and then douse it in A-1 Steak Sauce.

On one hand it's great to have all these social activities lined up, but on the other hand, I always try to make sure that I have plenty of recharging time between events. I'm the kind of guy who always feels more comfortable if I have down time at home -- whether it's a free weekend in the middle of a barbeque weekend sandwich, or just taking a few hours off during the day. When I had classes at Tech at 1 PM and 3 PM, I would usually walk all the way back to the dorm during the hour in between rather than sit around somewhere waiting. It's not just the relax-y time either -- it's some elusive quality that defines my home as home base, as if I can go there and build up the enthusiasm and will power for going back out again.

This hits me on a daily basis too. I will often plan shopping trips and errand running for the hours after work, but once I leave the office, I usually just want to get home. Not because anything fun is going on at home, just because it's home and not not home. If the errands don't occur somewhere along my direct route home, they will probably get put off until the weekend.

Behind the Scenes in North Korea
Life imitates childrens' books
This porridge is just right

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

List Day: Five Habits of the Past

  1. As a kid, I often read books on the stairs while standing on my head. I would generally start out at the top of the stairs with the book hanging over the edge, and then gravity would abuse me until my head was on the third step upside-down. The books were oriented normally with my head, so I didn't actually read them upside-down.

  2. When I was in seventh grade, I would run between all my classes, because it was fun to run. For all the bell-schedule-themed years that followed, my route between classes would be a complex circuit based upon the location of all the cute girls' lockers and classrooms. One year I actually went from a classroom in the basement, up to the second floor, and back down to the basement, just to say hello to the crush-of-the-year.

  3. Our Crew boathouse was next to an inlet with a small island of broken concrete accessible only at low tide -- apparently some misguided naturalist's attempt at creating a breakwater. Because the rowers from the middle-class junior high school arrived an hour before the upper-class junior high, we had extra time which was supposed to be devoted to "homework" (a French term for throwing rocks at all the glass bottles washed up in the sludge). Every afternoon when the tides cooperated, I would take a book out to this island and read in solitude. Once I stayed too long and had to wade back.

  4. In high school, I shaved my face using hand soap. Because the Asian race is essentially hairless in the facial area, I didn't see the point in buying a whole can of shaving cream. In college, I shaved so rarely that I was able to stretch one of those "Welcome to the Dorm" sampler cans of shaving cream for the entire year. In fact, I still have a sampler bottle of aftershave from year three that's half full.

  5. When I took summer classes at NOVA, I once had two evening classes with an hour break in the middle. Every Tuesday evening, I would go to the nearby McDonald's for a dinner plate of Chicken McNuggets and fries. I have not had McDonald's since April 5th of this year -- I seem to end up at Chick-fila or Popeyes more often.

Share some of your own habits in the Comments section!

The Life of a Chinese Gold Farmer
Honey, the baby's spacewalking
A tall frosty glass of pizza

tagged as lists | permalink | 4 comments

Friday, June 20, 2008

Friday Fragments

that doesn't take wooden nickels

♠ Work has been pretty busy this week, which might be why this week's entries are shorter than usual. Have you submitted your captions for Wednesday's Caption Contest yet? I rely on my readers to self-entertain in situations like this because I'm far too busy doing secret work and playing Mario Kart.

♠ I unlocked Birdo in Mario Kart a couple days ago. Ms. BJ is a medium-weight driver that speaks purely in farty sounds, and is a perfect choice if you would rather play Mario Fart. She farts around turns, makes farting noises when she passes people, and farts despondently when you drive off a cliff. Definitely worth the price of unlocking.

♠ On the other hand, I have unlocked very little in Smash Brothers because the single-player mode is more boring than watching Gosford Park dubbed in Chinese. I can handle a simple task like "race 16 times", but when the task becomes "beat the fifteen minute long single-player mission with every character four times", I quickly lose interest in unlocking anything at all.

♠ Speaking of unlocking, up until my most recent bout of Spring Cleaning, I kept every key I'd ever owned on a keyring, from house keys when I was 5 to bike locks and padlocks throughout my childhood. I had more keys than a Fischer Price Toy Piano (10) but not as many as a baby grand.

♠ Speaking of babies and toys, baby toys are quite entertaining for adults, but not from the perspective you might think. Playing with baby toys as an adult is more about solving the puzzle of "What is the baby supposed to learn from this?" than enjoying the toy. All baby toys must be educational or at least fake it.

♠ This trend doesn't seem to continue into older childrens' toys. I don't think I learned a single thing from Castle Greyskull except that I would never be allowed to own the dungeon slime addon because "it was too messy".

♠ There was a time when I owned all the He-Man action figures. I used to bring the entire set to the day-sitter's house to play with, along with my complete set of Transformers. We never made them fight each other because that would be too genre-bursting for a neat kid such as myself.

♠ This weekend, I have Friday night dinner plans and then a hike up Mount Old Raggy Mountain on Saturday. Surprisingly, this is the first time I've ever gone there. The weekend is also filled with birthdays: Chris Smith on Saturday, then Rebecca and Brianne's on Sunday. Happy Birthday to all!

Pig saboteurs shot
Chimps calm each other with hugs and kisses
How not to have an Olympic mascot nightmare

tagged as fragments | permalink | 3 comments

Monday, June 20, 2011

Weekend Wrap-up

On Friday night, we went for a spur-of-the-moment Happy Hour with Rebecca's coworkers at the physical therapy clinic. Where the week before we went to the Clyde's which is apparently Swinger Central for people in Ashburn, this week we went to the Greene Turtle in Leesburg, a sports bar with decent food and overpriced drinks. After dinner, we were caught inside by one of the innumerable thundersqualls. It ended moments later with a double rainbow over Giant.

On Saturday, a party of seven headed to Old Rag for a hike, along with eight million other day warriors from some kind of "-urb" in Northern Virginia. The weather was a lingering dropcloth of smoldering humidity, heavily hinting at rain without breaking all of the way up the mountain. We hit the summit around 1:00 for lunch and a brief rest before we were swarmed with tiny orange mating insects and a huge thunderstorm rolling in out of the northeast.

This got everyone off of the mountain in quite a hurry, but again, it never actually rained on top of us. We came back down by way of the fire trail, and then had ice cream in Warrenton at the Carousel stand. After a sterilizing bath to drown all of the hitchhiking insects, we had chicken-bacon alfredo pizza for dinner and watched Labyrinth until Rebecca fell asleep.

Sunday was an errandy day, with a trip to the grocery store and a much needed tire inflation. In the evening, Rebecca's parents came over for a dinner of grilled turkey burgers with a cucumber relish. We looked at pictures from the Peru trip and then called it a night.

Facebook Facial Recognition used for good
Chance of naked bike riders on Saturday night
New York airport geese to be cooked for the poor

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 0 comments

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Stuff In My Drawers Day: Eleventh Annual End-of-the-Year Party

Seventeen years ago today was the last day of my junior year in high school. As was customary, I had one of my rockin' parties, complete with a Trezur Hunt. Here are the knocking instructions that adorned the front door for this party:

Here is the final clue from the Trezur Hunt for one of the three teams. There were 15 guests at this party. Are you smarter than a junior?

tagged as memories, media | permalink | 1 comment

Thursday, June 20, 2013

List Day: 6 Indispensible Game Console Requirements

  1. No Startup Clutter: The time it takes from powering up the console to playing a game should be less than 10 seconds. I don't need menus to check the weather or warnings about my cardiovascular health.

  2. No Loading Times: Levels should load in less than 10 seconds. If I can go to the bathroom or hit the gym during a loading screen, you need to optimize your I/O and loading algorithms.

  3. Fun Single Player Games: I don't care about your innovative games that require four people to enjoy. Gaming is me time. I once fell asleep trying to play Super Smash Brothers Wii single player, in order to unlock the things that would make it fun in multiplayer.

  4. Ignore Online Play: I have never played a console game against a random dude-girl on the Internet, because it's not that fun. I haven't even had an in-person game night since June 13, 2008, because married guys have kids and other hobbies.

  5. No Social Integration: I shouldn't need an account or get bothered by "friends" when I just want to play a game.

  6. No Motion Controls: Until motion controls can differentiate between a gentle swish of the controller and arthritis, they are not going to make the game any better. Stop with the gimmicks.

Call me when you've made a console that does all of the above and I'll throw money all over it.

tagged as lists, games | permalink | 0 comments

Friday, June 20, 2014

All-Met Day

This year's All-Met spread of the area's best high school athletes is pretty awful. I don't really understand the artistic decision to put the athletes under a rain machine. Does it show their perseverance? Are they mailmen?

My hunch is that the Washington Post has had such awful luck getting the macho male athletes to smile in the past, that they gave up and forced a reason to frown upon the proceedings.

tagged as random | permalink | 0 comments

Monday, June 20, 2016

Weekend Wrap-up

On Saturday, I did a big post-Spring cleaning of the upstairs rooms, relegating many things to the "give it away some day" storage area in the basement, including a photo printer that no longer prints correct colors and 8 million dollars worth of printer ink for it, an A/V receiver that I've had since college and now overloads and shuts down when you go over volume 28, outdated tech books, a laptop bag that has never been used, and much more. I also finally retired the Wii from or family room since the last game I purchased for it was probably the sleep-inducing Skyward Sword Zelda game in 2011.

In the evening, we had burgers at the Counter, not realizing that Taste of Reston was going on just down the street, and then met up with Rebecca's yoga posse at the Lake Anne Brewhouse.

On Sunday, Rebecca went on a hot hike along Bull Run, while I stayed home and did nothing productive. We had her parents over for a Rebecca's Birthday / Father's Day dinner of grilled salmon and brown rice. (My parents were up north visiting my sister in Rhode Island so they were not invited).

How was your weekend? What are you getting Rebecca for her birthday on Wednesday?

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 0 comments

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Review Day: Beat Saber (Early Access)

"Not to sound like a shitty Ted Talk or anything, but virtual reality is finally here."

I pulled my Oculus Rift out of storage last week after not having played with it since that whole "having a kid" thing happened. In addition to re-downloading all of the games I partially played and dropped midway, I also used up some store credit on a pre-release version of Beat Saber, a rhythm game in which you slash through blocks with light sabers in time to the music. Since the awful first season of Riverdale proved that telling is inferior to showing, here is a gameplay video recorded in my new semi-permanent VR room (formerly known as "the workout room" and sometimes known as "the basement"):

I'm not usually the target market for rhythm games -- in spite of my music degree, I do awfully in Rock Band and Guitar Hero. As one of 4 people in the world that ever bought the dance mat for the Nintendo GameCube, I must make due with getting a barely passing grade while dancing to the Super Mario Brothers theme song and getting laughed at by a Goomba. In spite of this, I took to Beat Saber very easily.

At Early Access, the game contains 10 songs written exclusively for this game with 4 difficulty modes. I do pretty well on Hard mode, but fail almost immediately on Expert mode where there are more blocks flying at you than Funko Pop dolls when a tornado hits Gamestop. The game is very enjoyable at a visceral level, with satisfying feedback on block slicing and fun patterns that really get your body moving -- the designers clearly want you to play with your entire body instead of playing it safe with tiny, precise, controlled cuts. It can be quite the workout at higher levels and will no doubt fuel a demand for after-market headset covers that don't absorb all of your sweat for the next player to bathe in.

Since the game is still Early Access, it feels pretty limited in content. However, there's a lot of potential here (especially the possibility for mods, like this mod that puts Gangam Style in the game and forces you to do the actual dance). This could definitely be a game that pulls non-VR gamers into the fray without having to wade through the slow, extended tutorials and endless slideshows that currently act as a VR gatekeeper. Rebecca really enjoys playing as well and sometimes uses it as a wake-up workout before Maia is up in the morning!

Final Grade: I'd give it a B right now, subject to change when it's officially released!

tagged as reviews, games | permalink | 3 comments

Monday, June 20, 2022

Mother's and Father's Day

How Maia sees her parents

tagged as offspring | permalink | 0 comments

 

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