This Day In History: 07/21

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

There's another incredibly stupid, overdramatic reality show on Fox, Trading Spouses, featuring a white-trash bigot living with a black family. It follows the Fox formula of replaying every clip at least twice and dragging things out far beyond their useful lives. I had to turn it off after only fifteen minutes.

On another note, I watched Dodgeball last week. It was funny if you like Stiller movies, but not as funny as it could have been.

Jay Walkers will be shot
Inmates on a beer run
She wanted to be sure that her missing Monday paper had nothing to do with the fact that her Sunday Tribune had been labeled "Final" edition.
The Pants on Fire Tour rolled into Spokane on Tuesday.

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Thursday, July 21, 2005

Here's a picture of the progress on my walkaround sidewalk. The first slab was laid last October, and the remaining three sections (another fifty bags worth of concrete) will be completed over the next couple weeks, weather permitting.

People who know me know that I don't like making long-term goals. I don't know where I'll be one year from today, what I'll be doing, or who else will be there, and I don't have much interest in guessing. Long term plans never come to fruition as you'd expect them to, meaning you're either met with a pleasant surprise or you find yourself settling for less than you wanted. Having said that, a few short-term goals never hurt anyone. Now that 2005 has peaked its hump, here are my resolutions and ambitions for the remainder of this year:

  • July / August
    1. Finish the sidewalk.
    2. Give a three-part Lunchtime Seminar at work on music.
    3. Start playing trumpet regularly again.
    4. Visit the dentist.
    5. Resurrect Poker Night.
  • September
    1. Start composing again.
    2. Improvements for the Tenth (!) Year of the URI! Zone, namely adding more exclamation points everywhere (!).
    3. Remodel the second guest room.
    4. Shake Booty (or just remember to feed her).
  • October
    1. Go hiking at least twice.
    2. Remodel the storage room.
    3. Pass the next level of the Java Certification Exam.
    4. Carve a pumpkin.
  • November
    1. Pick up jazz piano again (the skill, not the instrument).
    2. Take over being in charge of Java Training at work
    3. Host lots of Thanksgiving dinners with lots of people and lots of food.
    4. Learn how to lay laminate flooring in my foyer and kitchen.
    5. See a doctor about my crappy carpal hands.
  • December
    1. Sort through ten years worth of e-mail.
    2. Go to at least one non-crappy musical.
    3. Remember to decorate for the holidays.
    4. Join a musical group -- maybe a jazz band or a bad choir.
    5. Burn bridges with all friends and invest the money I'd spend on their gift on something dangerous yet intriguingly fun for myself. You all are the worst friends in the history of friends.
  • In General
    1. Keep Poker Night alive.
    2. Exercise, compose and practice regularly.
    3. Cook real food more often.
    4. Make more of an effort to keep in touch with the old people and the new people.

Whenever I make lists like this, it always puts me in a very restless mood, where I have the urge to do something highly creative or productive. This occurred last night (yes, I cheated and wrote today's update a day early) and I almost got to work immediately on revamping the URI! Zone. Luckily I held back, since I know that the mood will wear off within 24 hours and I'll be left with yet another incomplete effort. Plus, there are other things I should be working on at the moment. I did not do any of these things in the interim though, so my evening was 100% successful at being a failure.

The weekend is fast approaching. I'm doing Poker Night on Saturday night (I got 2nd place last week) as well as some more concrete work during the day. Tonight I'm going to see the remake of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory which should be a fun time. I'll post my thoughts either Friday or Monday.

All these big updates almost make me want to start posting things on the weekend again. Almost. Then I look through my archives, see how much my weekend updates sucked, remember that I never got more than 10 visitors per day, and abandon all enthusiasm.

Booty freaks out because she has a tail (180KB WMV)

She was intrigued that someone could make big money beating men.
Nancy Larios told Jones her husband had fallen while carrying a vinyl office chair, a pair of scissors and the garbage down the stone-covered stairs
Bang bang, I shot you down

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Camping Inventory Day


Vint Hill Farms, Spring Camboree 1989


Spring Camboree 1992


Spotsylvania County, every month for years


Camp Sinoquipe, every month for years

Camp Big Mac, every year for 4 years
Rock Enon, every year for 4 years
Camp Goshen, 1994


Virginia Beach 2001


The Cove, 2007


The Cove, 2008

Cow Backpacks Trap Methane Gas
Unrepentant on Facebook? Expect jail time
Hotel of Doom wakes from its coma

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Newsday Tuesday

To Be or Not to Be Fairfax County?

Fairfax County has long been viewed as the ultimate burb, where Washington goes to walk the dog and water the lawn. But the more residents look around, the more they see what many have tried to avoid: high-rise offices, blight, crime and housing that's more likely to have a balcony than a back yard. That changing reality came into focus last week when County Executive Anthony H. Griffin raised the possibility of officially making Fairfax a city [...]

For the uninitiated, a county generally has a larger land area but a smaller population than a city, and more roads that meet at oblique angles (or not at all, in the case of the ubiquitous cul-de-sac, which is French for "place that stops you when you're lost so you can turn around"). County-dwellers have the power to choose their own trash disposal companies while city-dwellers have more government-sponsored parades on holidays. Despite their differences, cities and counties both share a mutual hatred for cable monopolies, a similarity dubbed by linguists as "comcastic" in nature.

An immediate glance at any map of the sprawling county is enough to tell that it has about as much right to call itself a city as I do to call myself a purveyor of fresh seafood, even when there's a cooler in the trunk of my Accord. As the amorphous blubber around and between ACTUAL cities, Fairfax County isn't so much a city as it is a protective buffer zone for the City of Alexandria when the South rises again (and it WILL). This is also why Fairfax County includes a fake area called Alexandria -- to fool the Confederates into razing the useless Hybla Valley instead of a rather pleasant place to live.

More telling, though, is the fact that there's already a city by the name of Fairfax in Northern Virginia, and coexistence would be tricky, if not downright hostile. Charles Dickens was unavailable for comment.

Regardless of whether the county changes its status [...] the discussion underscored a growing tension within Virginia's largest jurisdiction. What does Fairfax want to be? A giant urban expanse like many new Sun Belt cities? Or more of a residential suburb, with a handful of urbanized pockets sprinkled in?

Building on the imagery of majestic skyscrapers in urban pockets, the township of Reston has already started a tourism campaign, in hopes of attracting vibrant citizens who will vote in favour of cityhood.

For [some] families, Burke is their corner of suburban bliss, a community so complete that they rarely venture more than a mile or two beyond their homes. "It had all the ingredients that I wanted for my family," said Mary Holden, 46, a mother of four. "My kids' schools, their sports teams, their friends, the shopping -- it's all here. I can go a whole week not ever leaving Burke, quite happy."

Coincidentally, the Opponents of the Intercounty Connector (OIC) have proposed an alternative plan to reduce road maintenance, which involves walling in all of these self-contained communities, greatly alleviating traffic on main highways. This would have the side effect of driving up tourism dollars if Kurt Russell could be persuaded to film a sequel in one of the new urban islands.

Holden and others probably would be quite unhappy if they ventured about 10 miles north to Merrifield [where] two sleek new five-story apartment buildings rise from a weedy parking lot. It's just that kind of urban feel that attracted residents such as Duy Anh Huynh. "I definitely think of Fairfax as a city. It's awesome, very vibrant," Huynh, 34, said [...]

In a poll of Northern Virginia residents, a solid 84% of residents didn't even realize that Merrifield was a real place. Of those, 78% found it amazing that Mr. Huynh was able to get all the way there without catching the more noticeable cityscapes such as Arlington, "the frickin' District of Columbia" or even the smaller diet-cityscapes like Shirlington. Said one respondent, "Dude must have fallen asleep on the Orange Line."

"What would you rather do, leave it the way it is?" asked Robert E. Lang, author of the book "Edgeless Cities" [...]. "It's neither fish nor fowl. They are going to be out-citied by Arlington and out-countried by Loudoun."

Left out of Lang's quote was his assertion that they would also be "out-tooled by Montgomery County", but this comes as no surprise since Maryland has a higher tool ratio per capita than any state on the East Coast besides New Jersey. Fairfax County is a very distant fourth.

The one typically urban issue Fairfax is grappling with is neighborhood blight. [...] Some areas, such as the partly vacant mall in downtown Springfield, have developed such an unsavory reputation that several of the mothers in Burke said they do not allow their teenage children to go there.

Said Mary Holden, "It was bad enough when they had the Babbage's there with all those floppy disks of devil games but how can you pretend an Orange Julius is benign? Didn't OJ kill his wife or something?"

Still, the city label doesn't quite fit for some community leaders. [...] "I think the county form serves us pretty well," [Supervisor John W. Foust] said. "Future growth will be more urban, but we've got a huge population that has chosen a suburban model."

"And since maybe 3% of county residents can competently drive their Suburbans in a straight line, " continued Foust, "do we really want to see the unfortunate results of an upgrade? I think not."

Family sees Virgin Mary in bird droppings
Gang leader charged in attempt to control punk rock
Bellies and Baseball: A Salute to Pregnancy

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I am back in Sterling, and will resume normal updates tomorrow. In the meantime, I have backfilled last week's entries with pictures from my trip to artificially inflate the activity of my website. Enjoy!

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

The Office, Season Five:
The first half of this season was so-so, with silly devices to keep geographically remote characters still involved in the the plot. The Super Bowl episode started strong with Dwight's fire drill (and I watched 2:45 - 2:52 at least twenty times, laughing every time) but then got weird and petered out, as The Office does when any given episode is longer than twenty minutes. The last half of the season is much better, probably because shifts in the plot allow the action to play out in new situations.

Final Grade: B

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (R):
The Millenium Trilogy is a peculiar set of books because it's alternately meandering and page-turning (not unlike me when I'm assisting on a traveling piano recital). I theorized once that you really need to be a fast reader to not give up on the books before they start getting good, and the sheer number of characters in the first one is a little daunting. The movie solves a lot of these problems -- it's a perfect distillation of the text into screen time, maintaining the intent of the movie without being a slave to every detail. The problem with this, though, is that once you trim away many of the Byzantine details of the mystery, it's not much of a mystery anymore. I enjoyed watching this, although having to read the subtitles kept me distracted from any cinematography.

Final Grade: B-

The Girl Who Played With Fire (R):
The litmus test for this movie in my head was how they would handle the 900 pages in the book where the main character walked around IKEA buying things, and again, the movie is a good summation of the reason behind that scene. This movie was a little better than the previous, because the main plot was more relevant to the main characters. It occasionally suffered from the "too many old similar-looking white guy characters that they don't trouble to name" syndrome, although most of them return in the third movie, giving you time to figure out why they're important.

Final Grade: B

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (R):
The second movie ends in a cliffhanger, and you really need to watch this back-to-back to appreciate it (unlike Kill Bill which could be best appreciated by watching zero parts of it). The action in this one is a little more abstract, and the last half is a courtroom drama, but it does a good job of tying everything together and giving relevance to the brief scenes from the earlier movie that seemed out of place on their own.

Final Grade: B

Ex-trader admits threatening to kill U.S. regulators
Wearing a leopard is the new thing in India
50 Noted Americanisms

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Zone Updates In Progress

I'll be working on some infrastructure updates to the URI! Zone this week, so updates may be sporadic. Be back soon!

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Plans for the URI! Zone

The URI! Zone will remain online after its 20th birthday, ensuring that my future political opponents can cherry pick from an inordinate amount of inarticulate historical archives when challenging me if I ever decide to run for public office. However, I will be cutting back to 3 updates per week to more effectively reflect the overall decrease in visitors over the past 10 years.

Posts will come from 3 categories: What I'm Doing, What I Did, and What I Think.

  • What I'm Doing: Weekend Wrap-ups, End-of-the-Month synopses, 12 of 12s, and travelogues from all of the amazing places I visit, like Grindelwald, Denver, and Mellow Mushroom.
  • What I Did: Memory Day fodder, perhaps with a more chronological slant that I can ultimately bundle into a cheap paperback as shovelware, becoming yet another blogger with a book deal.
  • What I Think: Review Days, Lists, Habits, and geopolitical commentary on current events. Newsday Tuesday might return in some form.

I'll start out by posting on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, but may refine that later on through "continuous improvement with my Agile methodology". If you have any suggestions about things you'd like to read about or see here, let me know!

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Friday, July 21, 2017

Maia Week #2 Battle Report

Learning to understand Maia has been a lot like the level progression in a well-designed video game -- new challenges are introduced as we master the old ones, but not so quickly that we uninstall the game. We stopped the extra 20 minutes of syringe feeding at the end of week #1, which was immediately replaced by 20 minutes of post-feeding fussiness that we had to deal with, not unlike that friend that always orders the extra cheese fries then spends the end of dinner complaining about how much gym purgatory said cheese fries will require.

Once we'd gotten the handle on the fussiness, she switched to "cluster feeding", which sounds like a distributed way to feed her with four computers in parallel over the Internet, but is actual just a fancy way to say that she stays up for four hours and eats every hour on the hour. We passed this challenge as well and have allocated our level-up experience points in "playing Overwatch with a baby on your chest", "finally getting to watch TV again at least once per day" (currently watching: season one of Goliath and GLOW), and "blasting Palestrina during afternoon naps". Just yesterday, she fell asleep to Elevator by Flo Rida (and when she woke up, she asked why Elevator was in my MP3 collection and why I still have an MP3 collection).

Maia passed her two week pediatrician visit with flying colours. Her height remains unchanged, but she's gained 9 ounces over her birth weight and is in the 64% percentile for babies with big heads. Eventually her height, weight, and head size should normalize -- if not, she will probably look like a female Danny DeVito for a little while, which is not a bad thing because look what that man has accomplished.

Being a data-driven dad, I've been keeping track of my sleep time and was surprised to find that (other than the first night in the hospital) it never slipped under 7 hours in a day, albeit in tiny chunks of 1 - 3 hours at a time. We are also diligently tracking the hours slept, poops made, and other minutia as you are supposed to do as a new parent. Look for exciting brown-coloured charts some day when sufficient data exists for the purposes of science!

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Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Time-lapsed Blogography Day: Twenty-Six Years Ago Today

Twenty-six years ago today, on July 21, 1995, I attended the second worst live musical performance of my life.

I was 3 weeks into my stint at the Governor's School for Visual and Performing Arts, and the curriculum regularly tried to take advantage of the Richmond setting by sending us off to live performances all around the city. On this evening, we were bussed to the Carpenter Center (now Richmond CenterStage) for a production of Gilbert and Sullivan's Yeoman of the Guard.

It was a dark and stormy night. So dark and stormy that the actors' bus got stuck somewhere causing the show to start 45 minutes late. Of course, the audience was already captive in their seats and the ushers refused to let a pack of unruly high school kids back out into the lobby, so we passed the time in the worst seats at the very back of the balcony in various states of wisecracking, sleeping, and admiring how well the attractive kids cleaned up for a night at the theatre.

When the show finally started, it became apparent that the leads had either gotten high or drunk on the broken down bus. Pitch was all over and it seemed like half of the lines were ad libbed. We couldn't tell for sure because there were constant sound problems that caused whole monologues to drop off the mics. At intermission, many of the paying audience members left, allowing us freeloaders to get better seats, but this did not improve the show a bit.

This was the time where everyone in theater had Les Mis envy, so of course this production had an obligatory revolving set. The show peaked when one of the two leads tried to leave a scene through a gap in the revolving set that moments ago had just been a solid wall. This would have gone completely unnoticed had the other lead not realized the mistake. She ran back to the scene and then opted to use the built-in doorway as intended, as if proving that only her scene mate was useless. This caused most of the audience to start hissing, fed up with the whole thing.

The show finally ended at 11:45 pm. The power was out across the campus when we returned to our dorms, which was still fewer technical difficulties than the show we had just endured.

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