This Day In History: 07/11

Monday, July 11, 2005

Improvements

  • This weekend my dad and I moved twenty-five 80-lb bags of concrete mix for the next round of sidewalk improvements next to my house. I also tore the old carpet out of guest room #2 (it's time to pick new paint and carpet colors), rearranged the living room a bit, and started improving the appearance of the basement romper room. I ordered some tasteful posters online and moved the dining room table downstairs for barbeques and poker games, and I need to buy a dartboard for people who don't like to shoot pool. Replacing the dining table upstairs is less important, because I eat everything off a coffee table and it's only used by cats to look out the window. I'm improving the rooms I'm not in as much, so when I get distracted for months at a time, I don't have to worry about living within my work in progress. The rest of the weekend was filled with some nice gaming, some nice progress on my "How to Read Music" presentation, and a nice lunch at Boston Market (dark meat chicken with macaroni & cheese and mashed potatos with gravy, of course).

  • I've been diligently exercising for an hour a day for over a week now. My parents loaned me the fifth season of The Sopranos last week so I breezed through that while biking. It was decent enough but really more of the same. With such short seasons and a high price tag, it's definitely overhyped now. The previous seasons were great at creating interest in morally reprehensible characters, but it felt like too much of this season was spent making every little grimace or reaction shot deeply symbolic with layer upon layer of subtext. There was also way too much blatant product placement (though I did like the fact that a mob boss rewarded one of his men with the Whirlpool Duet washer/dryer set, since I have a pair in my basement and didn't rub anyone out for it). Overall, good TV if you can rent it, but don't go out and buy HBO just for the show -- the first couple seasons are still the best.

  • At work, Jack upgraded to a single-person office befitting his new managerial status, so I slyly relocated to the side of our old office near the window. The old slot will probably be filled in by whoever the next hire turns out to be (since we're always hiring someone). I still like the fact that everyone at FGM gets an office instead of a cubicle.

  • My 100? Things About Me page was a hit, judging from the spike in visitors I saw. I'll try to improve it with another 61 things to it at some point so there's an even 222. Incidentally, Anna mentioned that she ended up with exactly 222 pictures from her honeymoon.

  • I considered improving my news scripts to include a post title next to the date in the header of each news post. I abandoned this quickly because it would force me to think up a witty title every day.
  • As an added bonus this week, I'll be reposting funny videos from my news archive, one per day through Friday. Because movies are so large, they'll only be up for a couple days each. This should give you plenty of motivation to visit daily (and people who visit every day might also have the chance to be entered into a lottery where the winner has a chance to win a free toaster).

    First up is this infomercial for a genuine stainless steel katana: (5MB MPG)

    Estonians take wife-carrying title. Wife not required -- any female with a bag on her head is allowed
    Girl takes the sport of Xtreme Sleepwalking to new heights
    For instance, if someone is from Idaho, I could say, 'You're back in Boise for apple-picking time.'

    tagged as lists | permalink | 0 comments

    Tuesday, July 11, 2006

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

    2002 - 2003

    The first year of grad school was all about figuring things out -- meeting the people that would form the nucleus of the atomic hanging out group, discovering all the hidden fees that Bank of America threw onto every transaction, realizing that grad school was just like undergrad but with more free time, and chatting it up with the cute girl in the office for two weeks until she absent-mindedly scratched her nose one day revealing a wedding band (something you're just not used to looking for first when you're only 21).

    After that initial phase, grad school became a blur of comfortable hang outs, painting pictures, playing pool, listening to Mike's rants about how horrible U2 are, or watching a bunch of musicians smoke up and discuss the most unimaginatively stoner-apropo topics until three in the morning. The URI! Zone by this time had become all about the daily updates, and modifications to other areas like the Music and Art sections were few and far between. I really wrote to my audience in 2002, talking mostly about music or school-related topics, with the occasional politics post thrown in. I didn't make anything too racy, because I also knew my students occasionally visited, looking for dirt on their favourite TAs. I remember wasting an hour of my life convincing Justin Barron not to drive home drunk, driving him home, and then sprinting a mile out of the ghetto at 3 AM past the homeless shelter. I remember Booty the new kitten being too much kitten for a one bedroom apartment and running in crazy circles all day long, then being so lonely that she'd pee on the carpet anytime I set foot outside my door. I remember playing Conker's Bad Fur Day with Mark on his first day of quitting smoking in an only moderately successful bid to keep him distracted.

    I permanently moved back to Virginia and into an apartment with former roommate Anna in the summer of 2003, which also paired up Booty and Kitty as sumo wrestling champions, and in the first few months of Virginia residence, I only updated the website sporadically. Since I was now "officially" in the real world, I kept myself busy apartment hunting, going shopping, and working on pointless projects at work that would ultimately be cancelled. Once the hubbub died down, I decided that if I was going to have a website, I was REALLY going to have a website. After a highly democratic user poll, I registered the domain name, www.urizone.net (which narrowly beat out www.uriuriuri.com and www.urizoo.net). For those of you who came late to the party, uridomain was not an option because it was already registered to a Japanese porn site. So with much fanfare, The URI! Zone officially opened on November 1, 2003 and daily updates resumed (even on the weekend!)

    To be continued...

    Follow-up on the Paper Clip Guy
    Losing the election to your spouse
    he bugs were so thick that they showed up as a rainstorm of mayflies

    tagged as memories | permalink | 2 comments

    Wednesday, July 11, 2007

    Memory Day: English Class

    English and Social Studies classes were my least favourite classes growing up. Like the eternal battle between Pluto and Neptune vying for the "rock farthest from the Sun" award, the two classes constantly tried to outdo each other on the curriculum-hatred scale. (The worst year was eleventh grade, when they decepticonned the two classes into a two-hour monstrosity called "American Civilization" that you had to take if you were going to a real college). Perhaps it's ironic that I now write daily posts in the English language -- or perhaps it's just lucky that I'm still using the language in spite of the wretchedness of English class. Either way, there really wasn't much to like.

    Reading Aloud: In grade school, reading aloud was meant to improve childrens' diction. In junior high, reading aloud meant that the teacher did not make a lesson plan and needed to fill time somehow. We were reading aloud as early as third grade (Mystery Sneakers for life) and I was constantly getting inwardly impatient with the students who obviously were not hooked on phonics, stumbling over "the", "cat", and the space between the words. The Reading Circle provided me with my first taste of multitasking -- I would keep track of where the class was so I could jump in when it was my turn, but I would also skip ahead and read the rest of the story for my own amusement (followed by an intense round of doodling). In eighth grade, I actually had an English teacher who absolutely hated when I read ahead and doodled while the other kids dawdled, so she punished me by forcing me into the role of the "One not-really-angry man" in our reading of Twelve Angry Men. That poor bastard has to say something on every single page of the play.

    Vocabulary: Endless drills and quizzes on words that might appear on the SATs (there was a paucity of words that you'd ever actually use in real life). My teachers seemed endlessly obsessed with spelling these words correctly and using them in sentences, never realizing that we promptly forgot the words on a weekly basis, as soon as the quizzes were graded. The only time I liked vocabulary lessons was when I was allowed to draw pictures to illustrate the words.

    Parts of Speech: In some years, we easily spent three of five days a week learning the difference between an adverb and an adjective, and all the reasons why you shouldn't end a sentence with a preposition (sorry, "all the reasons why you shouldn't end with a preposition a sentence"). The worst was sentence-diagramming, where you had to take all the words in a sentence and create a little tree branch of lines representing each part of speech. My teacher was never amused that all my diagrams had leaves. It boggles my mind to this day that people had trouble figuring out what a gerund was. Mitch Hedberg could probably describe one best, "You just take a noun and then add -ing.". Incidentally, if you take the name of any animal and turn it into a gerund, the result sounds like a risqu? sexual maneuver. I will explain this later, after I'm done giraffing in the bedroom.

    Creative Writing: Creative writing was the one saving grace of English class, and wherever possible, I would try to convert more boring assignments into creative writing assignments. I wrote two parodies in high school, Morte de Lancelot and Antigone , both of which evolved from more prosaic in-class essay assignments, and both of which stemmed from my frustrations with having to read ancient works of literature and trying to shoehorn them into modern applicability.

    Themes: Discovering themes in literature was a ridiculous waste of time. Not everything in life has to have a deeper meaning -- maybe Kane just liked sledding as a kid. Even if you couldn't figure out the theme that the teacher expected, you could usually get by safely with: the affirmation of life, the confirmation of death, love, or the loss of love.

    What were your least favourite classes?

    Australia has very small buses
    How to crack a safe
    Bride attacks groom with stiletto shoe

    tagged as memories | permalink | 4 comments

    Friday, July 11, 2008

    Friday Fragments

    ♠ After over four years of living in Loudoun County, I finally signed up for a Loudoun County library card. It wasn't because I'm running low on books to read -- it was just because I wanted to check out back issues of Consumer Checkbook for Heating and Air Conditioning company reviews and I was too stingy to get a subscription.

    ♠ My library card is labelled in a low-tech way with a felt-tip pen, but at least the librarian had good handwriting. On the high-tech side, the card also came with two keyring-sized copies that seem to be all the rage these days.

    ♠ I have never had a keyring card of any kind, even for groceries or movie rentals. My keyring is quite bare, featuring only my house key and car key. However, this spartan composition will make it an excellent self-defense weapon on the day that Carlos Adolfo Dominguez with a bag on his head tries to attack me while I'm waiting for the bus to go to the movies .

    ♠ The other day, I met Rebecca at the Reston Town Center for a post-work dinner. After poring over a listing of movie times at nearby theatres, we realized that there's a distinct movie gap between 7:45 and 9:30 on weekday nights. Wouldn't it make more sense to start showing movies right around 8 so people can eat dinner and watch? Instead movies either start during dinner or so late that you might as well stay up all night afterwards watching one of your unnecessary cable stations.

    ♠ Speaking of unnecessary stations, XM Radio is promoting XM51: All Coldplay All the Time. Didn't they learn their lesson from the disasterous Led Zeppelin channel that barely lasted two months?

    ♠ This weekend, I'll be going for a bike ride, and also starting the Java rewrite of the URI! Zone, something that only took me twelve years to get around to.

    ♠ Speaking of things taking twelve years, a recent hot topic in the news was the DNA-based clearing of the parents of JonBenet Ramsey in the 1996 murder case. Outside of the usual complaints about the media, I always hated the coverage of this case, because it introduced us to the phrase, "under an umbrella of suspicion", and then beat us over the head with it for the next twelve years. That phrase doesn't even make sense -- wouldn't an umbrella of suspicion keep you from getting blamed? Is there a hole in it that's letting the suspicion in? Why am I asking so many rhetorical questions this week? I'm under my umbrella of questioning!

    ♠ Every time I read the phrase "hot topic" in the newspaper, I picture Jim Gaffigan saying it .

    ♠ Don't forget that tomorrow is 12 of 12! Have a great weekend everyone!

    Dicks stops sagging in Flint
    Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter
    Bat-in-the-bra one upped by bat-in-the-pants

    tagged as fragments | permalink | 0 comments

    Sunday, July 11, 2010

    News from Home

    Ella thinks that my cats are named "Beauty" and "Hamburger".

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

    Monday, July 11, 2011

    Random Vignette Day

    In 1988, there was a cheesy tourism ad about Epcot Center that regularly aired at all hours, but especially during the Wonderful World of Disney show on Sunday nights. The commercial ended with a zoom-out shot of Mickey Mouse waving from the very top of Epcot Center.

    My sister, who was 3 years wiser at the time, once asked hypothetically, "Wouldn't it be funny if he fell?" And I, as an impressionable 8 year old, had to agree -- watching a giant anthropomorphized mouse roll off of a giant golf ball did seem pretty funny.

    After the next Sunday dinner when the dishes had been washed and my parents were settling in to watch 60 Minutes, the ad came on again, and I decided to parrot my older sister's wisdom, "Wouldn't it be funny if he fell?"

    Instead of agreement from my parents, I got a stern lecture about the fact that there was a real person in the mouse suit who would be seriously injured if that really happened, along with disgust that I would have such a callous outlook on his well-being.

    Later that night, my sister laughed at me because I had gotten in trouble and she hadn't.

    Banana at large after attacking gorilla
    Millions of jellyfish invade nuclear reactors
    Guards bag prisoner in suitcase escape

    tagged as memories | permalink | 2 comments

    Wednesday, July 11, 2012

    Memory Day: Eleven Years Ago Today

    July 11, 2001 was in the heart of the limbo summer between undergrad and grad school. I was living with my parents in Alexandria, while commuting thirty miles one-way to Dulles every morning for my second summer internship at FGM. Because traffic did not gel with my master plan, I took to working from 5:30 to 1:30, which was nearly opposite of almost everyone else in the building.

    FGM had recently hired a Java guru who spent most of the day comparing design patterns to coffee filters, which inevitably led to several hours of refactoring code. My project for the summer was to design a reusable set of graphical elements that could replace the heavily duplicated, hard-wired UI in the existing software. Some might argue that Java Swing already filled this need, but I believe that it's a rite of passage for Java developers to write extensions to JTable and then prefix their own letters. In our case, it was a GTable, and the G either stood for Gumbo or Global.

    On July 11, we had the design review for GThings (the official name of the effort which I, as a lowly intern, had no say in). It was a smashing success all around -- the other programmers wanted to use GThings in their own programs because it meant they would no longer have to be responsible for all the graphical bugs found by the testers and could pawn them all off on us. The manager who rightfully wondered why it took two full-time developers and an intern to create and maintain this Great library was overruled by the will of the developers.

    As a postscript to this story, the government nixed GThings as soon as I went back to school at the end of the summer and all of the code was immediately discarded. So of course, I was put to work on UThings the following summer.

    After the design review, I stopped by Anna's house in Chantilly to pick up Kitty for a brief visit. Kitty was the cat we had adopted with Rosie in Blacksburg, with a penchant for chewing through mouse wires and peeing on everything. Anna's mom was never a big fan, and became even less of a fan when it was discovered that Kitty had managed to get fleas. That afternoon, we bathed her in the guest bathtub and then I took her back to my house while theirs was flea-bombed.

    This was the day where I learned that you should always box up your cat when driving anywhere. Kitty cried all the way back, climbed on the windows, dashboard, steering wheel, under the seat, in the drink holders, and around the pedals. Thankfully the car had window locks, but I almost swerved out of my lane at least once.

    As payment for her hair-raising journey, she peed all over my parents' carpet as well.

    tagged as memories | permalink | 3 comments

    Thursday, July 11, 2013

    Review Day

    There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

    Wonderfalls, The Complete Series:
    Wonderfalls is another quirky milestone on the Bryan Fuller timeline, after Dead Like Me and before Heroes, Pushing Daisies, and Hannibal. It tells the tale of a lowly retail clerk working in a gift shop at Niagara Falls who suddenly starts hearing cryptic advice from stuffed animals and figurines. This was another one of those poorly managed FOX series that was axed before it had a chance to take root, but the 13 existing episodes create enough of a completed story arc to make them worth watching. Overall, the show is fun and far better than the hugely disappointing Dead Like Me, but nowhere near as good as Pushing Daisies. To maximize your DVD watching time, skip everything else that Bryan Fuller has ever written and just watch Pushing Daises repeatedly.

    Final Grade: C+

    Twisty Little Passages: An Approach to Interactive Fiction by Nick Montfort:
    With this Kindle purchase, I was hoping for a light, nostalgic look at the evolution from text adventure games to modern interactive fiction. Unfortunately, the book is written like a dissertation, with the driest possible language that eliminates any sense of fun or excitement from the prose. Struggling to appreciate the material in spite of the language, ironically, felt similar to struggling to find the right command to type in an early text adventure parser. I only made it through one chapter.

    Final Grade: Not Graded

    Here Comes the Fuzz by Mark Ronson:
    This is another successful album from Mark Ronson, who has an unerring knack for mashing together all sorts of styles while abandoning anything that doesn't work, resulting in catchy, unique songs like "Bluegrass Stain'd". I didn't like this quite as much as Record Collection, but there's only a couple weak songs in the mix.

    Final Grade: B+

    Burn Notice, Season Six:
    Burn Notice just kind of chugs along now, with a few fun scenes but not much energy. A few chances to mix up the formula a bit are wasted, and the season ends with yet another meaningless, poorly explained scene that just sets up another season. A side storyline featuring Fiona in prison felt like a poor man's Prison Break. I mostly watched this while doing other things on the computer.

    Final Grade: C

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments

    Friday, July 11, 2014

    Random Chart Day: 2014 Exercise Stats (First Half)

    • Total Treadmill Sessions: 116 in 182 days

    • Speed Range: 2.5 MPH - 10 MPH

    • Incline Range: 1% - 6%

    • Weight Range: 124 - 128 pounds

    • Total Hours on Treadmill: 79 hours 40 minutes

    • Total Distance on Treadmill: 302.5 miles

    • Total Treadmill Oilings: 2

    • Total Accidents: 1

    • Most Popular Exercise Days (Most - Least): Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Sunday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday

    • Shows Consumed: That 70s Show, My Name Is Earl, Newsroom, Archer, The Following, West Wing, Awake, Person of Interest

    tagged as data | permalink | 3 comments

    Monday, July 11, 2016

    Weekend Wrap-up

    On Friday afternoon, Rebecca's clinic had their office picnic in Olney Park, a small park nestled in the armpit between the intersections of the Toll Road, 66, and 495. Luckily, heavy thunderstorms broke the stagnant oppression before the picnic began, so it was only mildly unbearable to be outside.

    On Saturday, we visited the Reston Farmer's Market (but left before the Ukelele Festival kicked off in earnest). In the evening, we went to my parents' house for dinner and the movie, Hail, Caesar!. The movie was somewhere in the upper 50% of Coen Brothers movies, most of which I haven't really enjoyed.

    Sunday was an errands-around-the-house day. Rebecca learned how to back up her phone photos IN THE CLOUD, and I played Overwatch and ran on the treadmill while watching Shameless. For dinner, we went to Ford's Fish Shack, which was as empty as we'd ever seen, and got the crab cakes and pecan trout.

    How was your weekend?

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

    Wednesday, July 11, 2018

    Review Day

    There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

    Sinfonia Pop by Mika:
    This DVD is a delightful live concert of Mika performing with orchestral accompaniment. The conductor is also the arranger, and allows Mika's songs to exist away from Mika's normal electronica. Great performances all around, including the little peppy backup singer who is clearly having a ball. For example, here's the song, Grace Kelly, as originally recorded and orchestrally arranged.

    Final Grade: A

    3%, Season Two:
    I really enjoyed this season (though I could only watch it during Maia naps where I could pay attention to the Portuguese subtitles). The story grows organically from the simple baseline set out in the first season and focuses on four characters with clear, complex motivations that don't just change their mind to further the plot (unlike The 100). There's great interplay between the leads and good progression towards the season's conclusion, albeit with a few too many dream sequences. Free on Netflix.

    Final Grade: B+

    Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Season Three:
    It took us a long time to get through this season. The story went where it had to go, but it's hard to laugh at the continued absurdity when things like attempted suicide are also in the mix. The main character morphs from someone doing crazy things that you can laugh along with into someone with more awareness of the bad things she does to other people (yet continues to do them anyhow). The songs, though fewer, are still pretty fun. Free on Netflix.

    Final Grade: B-

    KT Tunstall at Wolf Trap:
    We saw KT Tunstall (followed by Better Than Ezra and Barenaked Ladies) at Wolf Trap on July 2 in the worst, clammy heat possible. We bumped into Larry and Janice at the concession stand (as fans of the headliners) and took our yuppy pavilion seats with a good view of the proceedings. KT Tunstall was great in person and worth the price of admission. Better Than Ezra was fine -- engaging performers playing music I'm not particularly enthralled by. BNL were also good, although I'm not a huge fan of their music either. We left about halfway through the BNL performance to relieve the grandparent babysitters, but not before a fun duet between KT Tunstall and BNL.

    Final Grade: B+

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments

    Monday, July 11, 2022

    Weekend Wrap-up

    Our first massively multiplayer birthday party experience was a success!

    We hosted 8 extra kids and 5 parents on a surprisingly moderate day (postponed one day from Saturday to Sunday due to unexpected rainstorms).

    Activities included the pool, water balloons, the new water table from the grandparents, a pinata, cornhole, soccer, and birthday cupcakes.

    Lesson learned for next year: Pinatas are designed for adults. Reduce structural integrity before the party.

    tagged as offspring, day-to-day | permalink | 1 comment

     

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