This Day In History: 07/10

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Oh no! I haven't updated my page in a week! Whatever will you do? To rectify this horrid situation, I took a picture of myself in the mirror and ran it through several filters for your amusement.

I've been preoccupied playing the expansion pack to Warcraft III this past week. It's definitely a step up from the original game, and adds just enough new material to the game to make it worth your while. I'd definitely recommend it if you liked the original. I also went to a barbeque for the Fourth of July and played soccer on Tuesday evening. It seems that I've missed a few birthdays as well -- Kathy's was 6/29, Ada was 7/5, and Doobie was 7/7. Today is Andrew Simmons' birthday as well. Happy Birthday everyone!

On Sunday I wrote a new battle report for www.battlereports.com which has (to date) earned an undeserved 9.7. You can read it here if you're so inclined. I still haven't gotten around to converting the rest of the old URI! Domain, but I have the rest of the summer to take care of little things like that.

Of course, the only real reason you visit this site is for new pictures of Booty, and there I shall not disappoint. To see the latest and greatest pictures, click on the Photos tab and then choose Cat Pictures. The newest ones are at the top of the menu.

Until next time, keep fighting the good fight.

Lightning Strikes as a Sign
Doesn't everyone do this with carrots while watching the game?
"I do hope someone makes a fleet out of me when I die"
Hot Dog!
Mobs in the Sims
Wacky mutations
How not to beat off a sausage
Eat Attack
Koreans and their crazy gaming
Gamers are not nerds, they just live at home and sit in a dark room.

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Monday, July 10, 2006

Memoirs of a BUsha: Ten Years of the URI! Zone

2000 - 2001

For my fifth and final year as a college overachiever, I finally moved off campus to escape the antics of serial fire-alarm pullers and people that threw up in, on, and around dormitory bathroom stalls. I moved into a three-bedroom Foxridge apartment with Rosie and Anna, sacrificing high speed Internet for the master bedroom with a private bathroom and Friday-night pajama'd pillow fights. Having 14.4k dial-up after four years of T1 came as a shock, especially since the connection was shared across three separate computers, and I barely had the patience to wait for CNN.com to load, much less update and maintain a whole website.

For posterity's sake, I had my website labelled as a Historic Landmark. This means I dumped it on a free server (the Virginia Tech Music Department's) with everything that had been in it in previous years, and then didn't do a thing to it all year long. I think I had two and a half visitors all year long. 2000 was also the year we got Kitty, and the initial batch of photographs would be the inspiration for future editions of Cat Media Tuesday, Cat Media Wednesday, and sometimes Cat Media Thursday.

2001 arrived, I graduated, refused to buy a ridiculously overpriced cap and gown, skipped the billion-man-march version of ceremonies, and left Blacksburg, Virginia, leaving behind Kelley Corbett to keep an eye on things (a one year appointment that ultimately stretched into fifteen or twenty before he finally moved to New York). I started music grad school at Florida State in Tallahassee to needlessly prolong my adolescence and was once again in the situation of wanting to keep in touch with people that I no longer saw daily. Thus, the daily updates were born. Because I was still leeching bandwidth off of the Tech Music Department, the site was not very interactive, but people finally had a reason to come back regularly.

The tone of my updates took some time to mature. Initially, all my visitors were people from Virginia, so my early updates were journal-style entries talking about what I was doing in Florida, which horseshoe crabs were sleeping with which other horseshoe crabs, and what beaches I had visited to take pictures of the sun rise. As the readership shifted to be more Florida-centric, I talked more about musical matters, and close-to-home events. I tried several different styles, from daily quotes to fun facts, and finally came up with the simple "here's a picture, here's a paragraph, and here's some links to news stories I find interesting" approach. It may have been dull, but it was regular and I managed to update every day including weekends for many months. You can still read all my original entries by scrolling down the left sidebar to "News of 2001".

To be continued...

Happy Birthday Andrew Simmons!

Judge lets ex-fiance keep $40,000 ring
How not to be inconspicuous
Crime and punishment with a one-two punch

tagged as memories | permalink | 2 comments

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Newsday Tuesday

An Underwater Fence to Stop Invasive Species

Engineers are attempting to block the spread of invasive exotic fish by establishing an electrical barrier on the canal linking Lake Michigan to the Illinois River. Four species of Asian carp are spreading north up the river; a non-indigenous goby is attempting a move south down the canal.

It seems like every contemporary environmental fix-it program is just a weak band-aid for something we did earlier in history that failed. Engineers made the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal a century ago, and now everyone's surprised that fish are swimming through it. I'll admit that I am overly cynical though -- Operation Fishy Fence could end up becoming a smashing government-intervention success, the likes of which haven't been seen since the introduction of kudzu in the South, Maryland's plan to destroy the amphibious snakefish by draining a pond, and apartheid.

[The] Chicago project has yet to be tested by the Asian carp it was built to thwart. The Corps did test it with common carp [. . .] Only one has made it so far, probably riding the turbulence from a passing barge. [Corps project director] Shea said, "Depending on how brave or gutsy a fish may be, some may go a little further than others before turning back."

Some made their way past the site of the original barrier before it was built. [Alliance for the Great Lakes associate director] Brammeier said eggs and young from round gobies and other species can float downstream through the barrier. It may also take a higher voltage to stop smaller fish such as the round goby, since their smaller surface area makes them less vulnerable to electric shock.

In summary, the fence is useless if you are gutsy, very small, or have a boat to use as a distraction. The fence is like a box of condoms but with a lower success rate -- it may seem one hundred percent secure, but that one ballsy little swimmer that got through is going to cause a lot of trouble before this thing is all over. Even Brammeier agrees that the solution is not ideal.

"[We've] created a thriving economy but also a problem of fish being where they shouldn't be. We need to take steps to bring these things into balance. What that solution looks like is still up in the air."

When reporters asked Brammeier where fish should be if not in the water, and why his solution was up in the air where fish can just swim underneath it, he demurred.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service monitors the advance of the Asian carp with an annual "carp corral," . . . [where] scores of bighead and silver carp rocketed into the air, stirred by vibrations from boats. "We've had lots of broken noses and damaged boats," said Pam Thiel.

You would punch a scientist in the nose too if he named you "bighead". Thankfully none of the injured men needed a sturgeon (although one man reported a lingering haddock that was not cured by aspirin).

People feel just a tingle, or nothing at all, if they stick their hands in, Corps engineers say. But the effects could be more serious if someone were to fall into the canal.

The Corps has also admitted that they cannot turn on a portion of the fence yet, because it causes sparks to jump between neighbouring barges which "could trigger an explosion or injure crew members". However, exploding humans is probably a reasonable trade-off for putting carp on the national no-swim list. The fence wasn't even needed for the longest time because Chicagoans are naturally dirty.

Until recent years, though, heavy pollution in the canal prevented fish from swimming through it.

Something cheaper and more effective, then, would be to feed the citizens of Chicago more ruffage to increase the amount of poop in the waters, since it's already been proven that fish don't like swimming through a fecundity of feces. Embattled National Hurricane Center director, Bill Proenza, (who recently stirred controversy with his opinions on the QuickSCAT satellite system) offered to retask his satellites to monitor carp levels. However, taxpayers were not sold on the benefits of "CarpCRAP" despite Proenza's media blitz, which included public awareness signs along the canal and a three-day "Everybody Poops on Fish" fair in downtown Chicago. He finally abandoned his efforts after his website, www.craponacarp.com, was on the receiving end of a lawsuit from the owners of www.stuffonmycat.com.

To finish the job, however, the Corps needs an estimated $6.9 million beyond the original $9.1 million price tag.

Unfazed by the mounting costs, Border Patrol officials have already begun talks to erect a similar fence along the Arizona border.

Calls to Atreyu for comments went unanswered at press time.

Happy Birthday Andrew Simmons!

Chewbacca assaults Marilyn Monroe
Branch robbed by tree
Bush bad for tourism

tagged as newsday, mock mock, favourites | permalink | 6 comments

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Unfinished Day

In the past seventy-two hours, I've accomplished more on my website TODO list than all the progress the US has made in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Vancouver1 in the past three years combined. All it took was consolidating my fanciful feature fragments into a concrete list with things to check off.

Though I would like to claim credit for being super efficient, I am no longer the accomplishment machine I was four years ago , because old age slows you down and makes you prefer rewatching the fourth season of Alias (to see if Mia Maestro is still as hot as she was when it aired2) to actually doing anything worthwhile. I have plenty of projects that I started with gusto and then abandoned like vegetables during a salmonella scare3.

  • Last year, I started writing a jazz chart which reminded Dan of the theme song from the Legend of Zelda. It currently consists of an intro, two choruses, and a solo vamp.

  • I still have a collection of wooden doorway plates that you install under doors where two carpets meet so you don't wear down the edges or step on tack strips. Note that all house carpeting projects ended ten months ago.

  • Amber still has not received the final rabies booster shot. If she ever overcomes her fear of the front door, she might slip outside, get bitten by a coon of the rac variety (not the Maine variety) and turn into a slobbering, vicious zombie cat, terrorizing the neighbourhood outdoor cats and eventually becoming the main character in an annoying Facebook application.

  • I have a level 25 shaman heading for the 59 Twink bracket, but who is apparently waiting for Kathy to finish her dissertation first.

  • Anna and I started watching the sixth season of 24 last January. We are now 6 episodes into it. That isn't as bad as Jack, though, who borrowed the second season in September 2006 and still hasn't started it yet. I can understand this hesitancy -- it had COUGARS in it.
  • 1: The Canadian invasion has been in the making for years!
    2: Yup.
    3: The upside of the salmonella scare is that I can appear health-conscious rather than ornery about avoiding the eating of leaves and shrubs.

    In search of the magical penis thieves
    Batty for boobies
    Fake bouts showing men kissing draw suspicion

    tagged as lists | permalink | 0 comments

    Friday, July 10, 2009

    Friday Fragments

    for quitters, not fighters

    ♠ Today is Cow Appreciation Day, so if you dress up like a cow, you can get free food at Chick-fil-A. They seem to have many fun promotions for their food -- if you camp out in front of one of their new stores for 24 hours on the day before it opens, you also get free chicken sandwiches for a year.

    ♠ Although I confess to having eaten the Dietrick Express chicken sandwich for five dinners a week regularly in college, I would probably get sick of chicken (sicken) if I ate it every day for a year. However, I have eaten Shells and Cheese for five meals in the past twelve days.

    ♠ Speaking of food, we had dinner at the Big Bowl in Reston last night. I had the delicious Barbeque Pork Chow Fun, which has to be good because it's chow and it's fun. More Americanized Chinese food should have easily sellable names like that -- no one knows what the hell Moo Goo Gai Pan is until they order it, and then they're disappointed to find out that it's runny pancakes. Sure, the Goo and Pan could intimate Gooey and Pancakes, but then the Moo could mean beef. This sort of thing should really be explicit before you order.

    ♠ Speaking of ordering, on my beach trip people ordered hush puppies and LIKED them. If that isn't a sign of our eventual apocalypse, nothing is. I agree that breading things sometimes makes them better, but breading corn raises its taste score from a -8 to a -4. I'm guessing that the creators of hush puppies just wanted to remind you about the cyclic nature of life: it's embedded corn going in, and embedded corn coming out.

    ♠ Yes, I went there.

    ♠ My plans for the weekend include some shopping and some geek-learning, as well as dinner plans in Arlington on Saturday night. Then on Sunday (which is 12 of 12 for the mathematically-challenged), Rebecca and I are going to have a last-minute cookout for all of our friends who don't do well at planning ahead. If you're within shouting distance, feel free to stop by.

    ♠ Have a great weekend! Don't forget to participate in the caption contest!

    Monkeys recognize bad grammar
    Tokyo man's Riverdance dream comes true
    Brother's live on a building wall

    tagged as fragments | permalink | 2 comments

    Saturday, July 10, 2010

    They get an ENTIRE ISLAND.

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

    Tuesday, July 10, 2012

    Blog Physical Day

    Next month marks the 16th birthday of this website, which has survived and sometimes even thrived as a barnacle of creativity on the Internet's hull since I graduated from high school in 1996. It had humble origins, hosted on my cutting-edge Pentium 60 (with uptime measured in how often I turned it off to travel home for school breaks), and has grown into a hugely popular website where I sometimes see two people visiting at the exact same time!

    In honesty, the URI! Zone has gotten a little stale over the past couple years, as real life has reduced the amount of time I spend on it. Also, I have less of a need to seem witty on the Internet now that I'm no longer trolling for a wife. Recently though, I've been struck by occasional shrapnel of motivation to breathe some new life into my writing (generally when I'm sitting in traffic with all sorts of imagined free time in my head).

    Whether I can successfully transform these whims into a revitalized blog remains to be seen, but it can't hurt to give my blog a once-over health check-up to see what's working and what isn't (though any ball-grabbing will be figurative). In spite of my laziness, I still do have something worthwhile to say, and promise to quit before I reach Garfield levels of inexorable awfulness. To equate the situation to the real world, I'm kind of like Chris Hughes, but without the millions of dollars, business savvy, or overarching vision of what I want to do in the next five minutes.

    The primary lessons I've learned as a purveyor of light-hearted web content are as follows:

    1. You will never know what your readers find interesting until you post it. Your throwaway post will become a crowd favorite, while the posts you spend three hours on won't get a single comment.
    2. You are more likely to get comments if you close your prose with a question. This is known in the biz as "ending with a proposition".
    3. The amount of time you spend recording or ripping musical samples to accompany a post is inversely proportionate to the number of visitors who will actually download them to listen.
    4. You can never accurately judge how hard a Name That Tune contest actually is.
    5. A picture really is worth a thousand words, because your readers are lazy and would much rather look at a picture.
    6. Everyone loves lists, especially numbered ones.

    With these lessons in mind, here are a few types of posts I've written and what their futures might hold:

    Museday Tuesdays: This series was great to keep my music composition degree fresh, allowing me to maintain a mininum skill level at orchestration in case I ever get a plum partwriting gig, but only one or two people ever listened to my amazing compositions. I would like to keep music (and maybe some trumpet playing) in the mix for future posts, but I'm not sure how I want to approach this.

    Newsday Tuesday: This is my favorite type of post because I enjoy making fun of NASA or mocking badly written science. I would like to include more of these in the future, but they are easily the most time-consuming.

    Review Day: I can regularly count on high interest in my Thursday posts about video games, DVDs, and CDs of music that no one else likes. These will continue forever!

    Final Grade: A+

    Charts: It is very easy to make a chart, and charts are more popular than CDs of classical music remixed with ocean sounds. Expect many more of these in the future.

    Contests: From Name That Tune to Captioning, I've tried to hold a contest at least once a year. The problem with contests is that the operating costs for the URI! Zone are about $250 per year, and giving out prizes greatly cuts into my advertising profits (0 dollars per month). However, it's fun to get or give away money, so expect these whenever I happen to rob an armored truck and have a surplus of cash (so, monthly).

    Day-to-Day: Posts about stuff I actually do have been increasing, because that's honestly what a blog is supposed to focus on the most, and telling a story about what you ate for breakfast requires about as much effort as running for local office in Loudoun County as a Republican. I would like to use this space to provide more memories of ancient events -- a way to capture my thirty-two years of history before I go senile at 34 and forget it all.

    If you have any feedback on things you have read, or suggestions for future posts, I would love to hear from you. How can I make the Seventeenth Edition of this website even better?

    tagged as website | permalink | 6 comments

    Wednesday, July 10, 2013

    Memory Day: Coin Collecting

    I don't really understand the draw of collection-based hobbies, like stamp collecting or Beanie Babies. To me, a collection only makes sense if:

    1. You can use it regularly: Who doesn't want to build and play with the entire Lego Pirates ecosystem at the same time?
    2. The collection is finite: Oh look, five hundred new types of Beanie Baby were released this year.

    This is also why I long ago gave up on any video game goal requiring 100% completion that was really just a useless prolonging of the original game. I was too old to ever play any "Pokemon" games, but I'm sure I would have hated them. DON'T TELL ME WHAT I GOTTA CATCH.

    For a brief time in junior high school, I decided that collecting pennies would be a valuable use of my time and money. This is proof that child brains are poorly developed, and was also around the time that I decided that wearing the biggest, most unattractive glasses possible would let me see more in focus without having to move my head.

    Penny collections are very near to stamp collections on the useless scale, as you spend money on something that just sits on the shelf (touching them reduces their condition from "Fine" to "Good") while new pennies come out every year. Additionally, most pennies are worth... a penny, and always will be.

    On some Saturday mornings, as part of the weekly trip to The Price Club for groceries, we would stop at the coin store in Springfield and I would look through the pennies. The crown jewel of my collection was an "Uncirculated" penny from the 60s that cost $4.00 and isn't even shown in the collection here because it had to stay in a special sealed sleeve to prevent oxidation. That penny is now worth a maximum of $1.

    It was around this time that I realized there were other potential purchases that would actually be FUN to play with, like computer games and Lego sets, and redistributed my wealth accordingly.

    What did you collect as a kid?

    tagged as memories | permalink | 4 comments

    Thursday, July 10, 2014

    Review Day

    There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

    Pulses by Karmin:
    Karmin's first claim to fame three years ago was this Chris Brown song, featuring an amazing rapid fire cover of Busta Rhymes, and they've dwelled happily in their pop covering niche ever since. Pulses is their first album of original songs, and although it was not well-received by critics, it's exactly what you would expect -- the most salient features of today's radio hits rolled into pleasant aural wraps. There is nothing on this album that is daring or groundbreaking, but it's well-constructed and fun to listen to.

    Final Grade: B

    Les Appareuses Trompences by Boulevard des Airs:
    This is the second album from the French band we saw in the Quebec Summer Festival back in 2012. It has a good mix of styles, with some heavy reliance of reggaeton, but still not as much trumpet as I would like. I enjoyed listening to this album a lot, although some of that might just be nostalgia from our Canadian festival experiences. Also, Google Translate unhelpfully tells me that the English title is "The Appareuses Trompences".

    Final Grade: B+

    Honeywell Whole Room Air Circulator Floor/Table Fan, HT-908:
    Small, quiet, forceful, and keeps the mosquitoes away from my legs while I'm on the deck, kind of like a pet bullfrog.

    Final Grade: B

    Transistor:
    I picked this game up because I enjoyed the developer's first game, Bastion. It has a definite style and was obviously crafted with love, but it never grabbed me in the first hour of play. Like Bastion, it drops you into the game without explanation or backstory, allowing you to learn the controls and get into the story as you go. However, this approach doesn't work for me, as it gives me no sense of setting or narrative and I always feel like I'm missing some gameplay mechanic when learning it on my own. Not everyone minds reading a game manual before firing up a game for the first time.

    Final Grade: Not Graded

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments

    Friday, July 10, 2015

    Stuff In My Drawers Day

    I wrote this essay 29 years ago during the middle of my first grade year (Language Arts with Mrs. Uhler). The paper quality in the 80s was about as poor as the giant pencils, so I've greatly adjusted the contrast.

    Like all smart doctors, I knew that a private practice in an anonymous commercial park was preferable to the chaos of working in an actual hospital. I also knew that if a malady was beyond my skill, it was better to punt to someone else, rather than take the hit to my practice's mortality rate.

    tagged as media | permalink | 1 comment

    Wednesday, July 10, 2019

    Review Day

    There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

    12 Monkeys, Season Four:
    This show continues to have a great balance of humour and drama in its final season and it brings back several favourite side characters in ways that feel earned and fun. The uber-villain of the show (who was finally revealed at the end of the previous season) is irritating in a one-note kind of way, but otherwise this is an amazing wrap-up to the story. The last 3 episodes frame a perfect ending that I didn't see coming, although they are as self-indulgently long as the end of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. After it was all over, I was able to see clear tie-backs to events in Season One -- the vast majority of potential plot holes are cleanly wrapped up. This is easily the best sci-fi show I've watched in quite some time!

    Final Grade: A

    Professional Rapper by Lil Dicky:
    This album has a lot of great "funny-type" rap songs that are a lot of fun on initial playthroughs then get progressively less interesting each subsequent time. The title song is the best of the bunch.

    Final Grade: B-

    Bo Burnham: Make Happy:
    I turned this comedy special off once before because it's more one-man show than pure stand-up (and that wasn't what I wanted at the time). Giving it another chance, I enjoyed the off-kilter mix of weird, uncomfortable humour and self-deprecation. Free on Netflix.

    Final Grade: B

    Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble by Dan Lyons:
    This tale of a tech journalist who joins a software startup in his fifties is equal parts fish-out-of-water tale and an exploration of insane startup culture. It chugs along at an entertaining pace and branches out into deeper issues of ageism and Silicon Valley economy once the basic narrative starts getting stale. I enjoyed it well enough, but found that the most intriguing part was the Epilogue where he briefly described failed attempts to prevent the book from getting published -- I wish there had been more to this end of the tale.

    Final Grade: B

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 3 comments

    Friday, July 10, 2020

    List Day: 10 Unlikely Perils that Childrens' TV Prepared Me For

    • Quicksand

    • Fake roads painted on walls

    • All of the animals escaping from the farm

    • Erupting volcanoes

    • Trains approaching while I'm in the middle of a bridge

    • Trains derailing because the track switch is toggled to the wrong side

    • Convicts trying to steal my vault of gold

    • Friends pressuring me into smoking cigarettes

    • Trapped in a cage with the key just out of reach

    • Drugs everywhere

    tagged as lists | permalink | 4 comments

     

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