This Day In History: 07/16

Friday, July 16, 2004

As is tradition, Alias has been nominated for a bunch of Emmy's , and it will end up winning none of them.

It's the doldrums of the summer months now, so there's not much going on. Instead of something insightful, here are three examples of the worthless tenacity of the U.S. government:

But the U.S. government accused him of violating U.N. sanctions against Yugoslavia by playing the match there.
The US has stressed it will seek the extradition of an alleged army deserter when he travels to Japan for health care.
However, a few days later, he was shipped back to the United States to face the cowardice charge, the first such case since the Vietnam War. Conviction on the charge can result in the death penalty.

Incidentally, I think that the death penalty is a wonderful positive influence on fighting troops. "Go out there and get killed or we'll kill you back home!"

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Governor's School Week: Part I of V

It's been awhile since I had an honest-to-goodness themed week on the URI! Zone, like Video Game Music Week from 2002, or the lesser-known failure, Integer Divisors of the Number "1" Week. Because everyone loves a miniseries (unless they are un-American), I've decided to create a week-long Memory Day feature about my attendance at the Governor's School for the Visual and Performing Arts, twelve years ago this month.

The Governor's School is a month-long program for public school students going into their senior year focused on a single discipline. In 1995, the School for the Visual and Performing Arts took place at the University of Richmond, sharing a campus with the Governor's School for the Humanities (a thesaurical way of saying "people good at the writing"). There were other, more boring, programs at other colleges -- for example, you could take a month-long sojourn into the amazing world of CHEMISTRY at William and Mary. My friend, Ada, went to this one and hated every minute. Because the full title takes so long to say, people in the know often called it "Gov School", though it was cringe-worthy to hear outside parties refer to it this way, much like "the Potterverse" or any references to The Net starring Sandra Bullock.

The rules of the program were straightforward -- no drugs or alcohol, get inside by curfew, wear your ID button at all times, no snogging, and remain vertical. Apparently the administration was worried about the possibility of teen pregnancies -- this is an understandable hangup since you never know what you'll get when you mate a violist and a trombone player1. With the exception of a girl from my high school, Laura Moody, who was kicked out on Day Two because all her permission slips were forged, rule infractions were few and far between. This is because we were all a bunch of artsy geeks, too busy following the muse to get into much trouble.

Even if we had all been malefactors, the schedule did not leave much time to prank it up. After a hearty dining hall breakfast, we had an hour and a half of music theory training followed by an equal portion of brass ensemble and quintet time. Following a lunch during which we had to fight for table space against campers from every hosted sports camp imaginable, we had an hour and a half class outside of our discipline (more on that tomorrow), and then another session called Explorations where we could sign up for oddball one-time courses like "Total Muscle Relaxation", "How to Choose a College", or "Poetry Reading".

Immediately after dinner was jazz practice -- an ad hoc attempt to create a big band under the dictatorial leadership of a big-dreamin' pianist -- and then a field trip into the artistic capital of the East Coast, Richmond, which lasted until curfew.

The only piece of the schedule I could really customize was the Explorations portion, and I immediately squandered it by signing up for Ultimate Frisbee on at five of the twelve sessions -- artsy students are not very sporty, so the fact that I was actually good at this sport turned me into the Michael Vick of the frisbee parking lot (they wouldn't let us play on an actual field because re-lining it was too expensive). The other sessions covered such hot topics as "How to make an Origami box", "How to look like you're fighting without actually making contact", and "Digital Sampling" (which was about a decade behind the technology and involved the Apple IIgs computer).

For the remaining sessions I signed up for "Study Hall", which was where you took your instrument and sheet music down to one of the practice rooms and then took an hour and a half nap, subsidized by the Taxpayers of Virginia.

Tomorrow: Legendary Visions...

1: Other than a baby that excels at accompanying the important melodies in nonstandard clefs.

Money falls from the skies
Runner up in a one-horse race
Free tickets for virgins

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Amazon Day

It's no secret that I overshop at The fact that they store all order histories since the year 2000 provides an interesting snapshot of my life at the time. While I work on fun web site improvements like a JSP-based forum, enjoy this unabridged glimpse at all the deviant purchases I made from 2000 to 2001.

What's in your order history?

Santas in civil war
Why the Washington Metro needs more poles
Officer downed by ice tea

tagged as lists | permalink | 1 comment

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Weird Search Day

or "How I Stumbled Upon the URI! Zone"

  • who sings i see you baby shakin dat ass
    Groove Armada sings this instant classic, and the Fatboy Slim remix ranks very high on the "Worst Songs in the World Not Sung By TATU" scale.

  • piece of food is stuck between my esophagus and windpipe uncomfortable
    Apparently, this unfortunate searcher was unlucky enough to get a piece of food directly between two tubes. The first step would be to have an operation to get his useless epiglottis realigned, since it obviously wasn't doing its job correctly. Next, he should either induce vomiting or poke the food down the esophagus with a couple of Q-tips taped together.

  • catchy title for a football party
    Generally speaking, any phrase that ends with the word "Bowl" shows that the host is at least minorly clever, and implies that football will be involved. However, if Warren Moon is attending your party, it probably won't be very "catchy" at all.

  • salma hayek can't act
    I don't think her acting ability is the problem, so much as the complete incomprehensibility of anything she says in English.

  • gay license plates rainbow kitty
    Luckily for you, the Virginia DMV already has a custom template you can select on the DMV website.

  • do they really poop and pee in alleys in france
    Yes, they do. In fact, they prefer pooping and peeing in major thoroughfares because traffic speeds up the decomposition process. There is actually a carnival game of sorts on the top tier of the Eiffel Tower where you pay two francs to poop off the side (securely fastened inside a safety seat, of course). The goal is to reach the Seine river, but the wise carnie knows that this can only be done on days with high easterly winds. Unfortunately, the top tier was closed when we visited last year, so we did not get to play Avion F?cal.

  • "don't use the bathroom" + diapers
    People on the Internet seem to have an unhealthy obsession with bodily functions. At least this search wasn't paired with the classic favourites of "lesson plans" or "recipes".

  • intercourse illustrated

  • more than two toothbrushes zone - police fine
    The number of these zones in the United States has greatly decreased over the last fifty years, mainly because the police are tired of filling out the inci-dental reports after cavity searches.

  • ihop snowman with bacon penis
    Anyone that considers themselves a true devotee of IHOP would know that the long strip of bacon running down the front of the breakfast snowman is a necktie, and not a penis!

  • karate man black belt in prison on a poster designed to motive cops

  • Police arrest naked Terminator
    Bride's boquet brings down plane
    Legged loot from armed robbery

    tagged as website, searches | permalink | 4 comments

    Friday, July 16, 2010

    In the redwood cathedral on Bear Mountain.

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

    Monday, July 16, 2012

    Oui, J'ai BU.

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

    Tuesday, July 16, 2013

    Heat Day

    According to the weather forecast, we are now entering the annual week where the intensity of the heat and humid swirl together like a melted morass of soft-serve, indiscriminately killing urban old people and providing everyone else a guilt-free reason to stay indoors in front of the computer. Since I regularly spend all of my time there anyhow, this week won't be much different than any other week, although the leather seats in my Accord increase the likelihood of "sweat-back" on any given commute.

    Incidentally, the Weather Channel website is 550% less annoying if you visit the mobile version ( rather than the regular version ( The parts of the forecast that one might actually care about are highlighted, while the autoplaying videos and social media entreaties to "see what your friends think about the weather" are eliminated like married people with children in San Francisco.

    In the history of BU, I can only recall two times where I was ever vanquished by Virginia heat -- normally I go willingly into the darkness without a fight, watching DVDs with the sound turned up high enough to hear over the A/C:

    • In the late 80s, I was enrolled in a Summer Day Camp at Patrick Henry Elementary School, for kids whose parents didn't trust them to stay home alone without burning the house down. On one particularly hot afternoon, the highly skilled camp workers decided to trek the entire gaggle of kids on a mile-long walk up a steep hill to the Burke Library to watch films. I do not recall what films were put into the projector, because I (and several other kids) spent the entire library visit pressed against the cool, unsanitary floor of the library, recovering from heat exhaustion while the camp workers discussed amongst themselves whether they would get fired.

    • During a homecoming football performance at Virginia Tech, sometime around 1997, the halftime show consisted of multiple scatter drills and run-ons in a marching band uniform made from leftover canvas from the flag of Qatar. This was followed by a twenty minute "stand at attention" phase while they honored a bunch of old athletes that no one cared about. I succumbed to the heat and keeled over onto one knee for about ten minutes, but managed to recover and stumble dizzily off of the field at the end. This was ironic, because the rest of the band was also stumbling dizzily off of the field, but I was probably the only one that hadn't been drinking.

    tagged as memories | permalink | 0 comments

    Wednesday, July 16, 2014

    Memory Day: Snapshots

    Two years ago today, on July 16, 2012, we were on our Canadian adventure. On this particular day, we went to the Bio Dome, a giant indoor habitat full of capybaras and puffins, as well as the wine bar, BU. In the evening, we inserted ourselves into the Illuminated Crowd sculpture across the street from McGill University, and then closed out the evening at the Laughs Festival surrounded by men dressed as giant horses.

    tagged as memories | permalink | 1 comment

    Thursday, July 16, 2015

    Review Day

    There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

    Prime Day:
    Amazon's big 20th Anniversary sale was a huge bust. Deals were split across confusingly named categories with the same poor site navigation that prevents me from ever discovering interesting Kindle books to buy. It was difficult to see deals that were coming more than a couple hours in advance unless you camped on the site all day long, and the deals that were there were all one-offs to things that would have actually been worthwhile: An iPhone! (case) A tablet! (stand) A giant bottle of WHEY! I was prepared to spend tons of unnecessary cash on fun things I probably would never have needed or purchased in a fiscally responsible WHEY! but I walked away completely empty-handed. It was like going to a college job fair solely for the free snacks, and then finding out that you're getting Hydrox and Lipton Diet Green Tea. What a failure.

    Final Grade: F

    Rectify, Season One:
    This drama from the Sundance Channel (which I didn't even know was a real channel) appeared with little fanfare on Netflix, and tells the story of a convicted murderer who's freed on DNA evidence after 20 years spent in prison. The pacing is slow but methodical, yet it kept my interest much more than Bloodline did. I also appreciated the relative murkiness surrounding the original crime, which gives you the space to come to your own conclusions about the characters and circumstances -- had this show aired on Fox, it'd probably be filled to the brim with unnecessary flashbacks to the ancient violence. Free on Netflix.

    Final Grade: B+

    Surrogates (PG-13):
    One of my jobs while Rebecca hikes everywhere has been to watch all of the movies she probably wouldn't care about missing. Bruce Willis stars in this movie about a future where everyone lives their daily lives through robot avatars, "surries", and have forgotten how to interact with real life. It's brief, entertaining, and raises some interesting questions to muse upon in the shower.

    Final Grade: B+

    Interstellar (PG-13):
    I liked this movie far more than I expected I would, and even watched it again with Rebecca who gave it two thumbs up. The internal consistency of the plot is impeccable, with every scene from the beginning lending weight to the resolution, although I did feel like the denouement felt a little silly and too full of exposition when compared to how effectively the rest of the movie was paced and crafted. The movie is almost 3 hours long but didn't necessarily feel long -- although they could have trimmed about 20 minutes of Anne Hathaway sitting in a spaceship reacting to gravity by grunting and leaning to the right.

    Final Grade: A-

    Prisoners (R):
    This was a great movie, in spite of the fact that Jake Gyllenhaal looks like he's channeling George Washington (or Inspector Javert) on the cover. However, it's unrelentingly grim, starting from an unsettling place and building in intensity and creepiness without pause. The plot focuses in the disappearance of two little girls, and the mentally handicapped adult that may have been involved. Clues are intricately worked into the plot, and the ending is satisfying and consistent without relying on any M. Night caliber plot twists. I was able to figure out a few pieces of the puzzle early on, but this did not diminish my enjoyment of the ending when all of the loose ends finally came together.

    Final Grade: A

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 1 comment

    Monday, July 16, 2018

    Weekend Wrap-up

    Rebecca has a permanent 4-day weekend in her schedule now from Friday to Monday, which is pretty awesome for her. On Friday, she took the morning to go to a new yoga studio with Kathy while I stayed home and worked and Maia hung out with her maternal set of grandparents. In the evening, we went to Mellow Mushroom for dinner for delicious hoagies and pizzas.

    On Saturday, Rebecca met Ben and Andrea, up visiting from Cary, North Carolina, at the Lake Anne Farmer's Market. Everyone came back to our house after the market so the babies could play together, and Amelia spent the period poking a tired Maia in the eyeball. After a well-deserved long nap, Maia got to swim around our new kiddie pool on the deck. We invited the across-the-street neighbours over so their son could also be in the pool (no eye poking occurred) and had burgers with colby jack cheese.

    On Sunday, Rebecca tried yet another new yoga studio, this time in Reston, while I organized the living room. In the afternoon, we re-organized the entire kitchen for maximum efficiency (following such common best practices as "put all the baby junk in consecutive drawers for maximum network throughput" and "move the fajita kit to the top shelf since we never make fajitas").

    How was your weekend?

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

    Friday, July 16, 2021

    Review Day: Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

    There are no major spoilers in this review.

    Piranesi by Susanna Clarke is a standalone novel that simultaneously manages to be both a comforting and uniquely different reading experience. This is my first exposure to Clarke's work.

    The setting of the book is an unusual flooded house with infinite rooms and hallways featuring an endless array of statues from antiquity. Living here is the titular main character, who adores the house and lives to explore it and care for it. The author devotes the first chunk of the story to fully realizing the setting while introducing just enough seams and irregularities to imply that not all is as it seems in Piranesi's life. At times, my reading experience felt like a work of modern Interactive Fiction from the era when IF was evolving away from dungeon-based text adventures towards serious stories with literary appeal.

    Clarke captures the main character's innocence and sense of wonder, contrasting it against the ethereal setting that might seem claustrophobic or even dangerous from someone else's perspective. The whole narrative has a sing-song dreamlike quality that allows the central mystery to germinate at its own pace. The ending (which arrives quickly in spite of the slow introduction) left me satisfied and just a little bit melancholy.

    Piranesi would have been a perfect quarantine read had I picked it up last year. It's a beautiful, short read that might appeal to anyone who enjoyed the innocent first-person perspective of Daniel Keyes' Flowers For Algernon, the feeling of rediscovering buried truths in Hugh Howey's Silo series, or the introspective troubles of the main character in Christopher Nolan's Memento.

    Final Grade: B+

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments


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