This Day In History: 07/22

Thursday, July 22, 2004

We watched Starsky and Hutch last night -- a pretty funny movie. It was well-made and not over the top.

Bite-sized snacks are never as good as they should be. They have so much wasted potential -- you expect something that tastes better than normal size, because the area of good taste is greatly reduced while the flavorful materials are kept constant. In practice, the snacks are more shoddily constructed, have more crumbs, and skimp on the parts that taste good.

Appleton man injured while making obscene gestures at trains
World's smallest cat

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Friday, July 22, 2005

Friday Fragments

  • I liked Charlie and the Chocolate Factory better than the original movie, and I'll post a full review on Monday. When calculating the tip for post-movie munchies, I did my usual 15% plus whatever it takes to round to the nearest dollar and came out with $2.22. Someday soon I should make a page listing all the crazy places that number has appeared.

  • This month is rapidly becoming the month with the wordiest updates ever, aided by the fact that I finally bought a tiny notepad to write things down in the car, and the half hour I set aside each night for writing. Runner-ups include February 2004 (Oscar picks), February 2002 (the week-long essay on the evolution of video game music), and April 2002 (reviews of Steve Reich's music and the week-long essay on authors I read as a kid).

  • I always knew the French were a little wacky but now they've outdone themselves. The posters on the right are actual images from their new "Prevent AIDS" campaign. I have applied a Gaussian blur to the salient man ass, since that's not necessarily the first thing you want to see in the morning. Kids, make sure you don't have le sex with a spider, because that's how l'AIDS circles le globe. The previous sentence is the result of four years of high school French.

  • I kicked off my list of ambitions by getting a new dentist, so take that, the two of you who voted for "0-9: Slacker ass slacker". I have a cleaning on Monday the 25th. I always thought dentists were supposed to have a year-long backlog.

  • Everywhere I went this week, there were news stories about parents putting their kids in the trunk of the car and seeing absolutely nothing wrong with it. One lady put her kid in the back and the dog up front, because the dog whined and destroyed the fabric when they tried to put it in the trunk.

  • In general, I prefer strawberry-flavoured breakfast bars, but the Quaker Fruit & Oatmeal "Very Berry Muffin" bar makes a strong case for itself. The filling is incredibly rich and aromatic, sure to wake you up in the morning. I don't know if it tastes any better than the rest (it might actually have a more annoying aftertaste), but it's good way to mix up the routine.

  • I received a note from Dave McKee at Virginia Tech saying that my arrangement of Brick House which has been played at football games for five years will be on the next Marching Virginians CD in the Fall. I get no cut of the profits but now I have something to put under "Discography" when I get an berth (I have not yet forgotten about the heavy metal CD, Bacterial Chest Infection I promised to produce several months ago).

  • I also received an e-mail from the Scholarship Fund of Alexandria asking me to fill out a survey about a band scholarship I got ten years ago. Since they used a college address I no longer publish (llamaboy @ I'm not quite sure how they found me. I guess the stalking gets hardcore when money is involved. The surname of the lady sending the e-mail, Yowell, is also the last name of a guy I went to music camp with in the summer of my eighth grade year. He dropped trumpet soon after, and I think he turned into a druggie, although I could be confusing his life story with the numerous other G.W. students who dropped <productive hobby A> and picked up <abusive substance B>. Small world, regardless, though.

  • Here's another sign that the world is small and getting smaller. On slow days, I'll visit random blogs from the northern Virginia area . Some of them I bookmark and some of them I never visit again. I'd been reading one blog for a couple months when I happened to e-mail the author. The name on the return e-mail led me to discover that we went to the same high school two years apart. As if that weren't enough, we were both in band, pit orchestra, did crew, went to Tech, and she dated one of my roommates at Tech. I thought it was creepy at first, then kind of cool in its own Magnolia way. She probably just thought I was a stalker!

  • My roommates in college were characters. I had six total over my five years. Maybe one day I'll tell some stories about them, like the one that brought a girl home when he thought I was sleeping, the one that drank the bottle of Everclear and marched the half time show with vomit on his pants, or the one we called Beavis because, well, he looked exactly like Beavis.

  • I like eclectic updates. Maybe I'll do this every Friday. Have a good weekend.

  • World Net Daily enters the running for the "Worst Excuse for Journalism in the History of Journalism" award
    Teapot cult attacked
    Bomb bomb bomb

    tagged as fragments | permalink | 6 comments

    Tuesday, July 22, 2008

    Newsday Tuesday

    A dash of lime -- a new twist that may cut CO2 levels back to pre-industrial levels

    Scientists say they have found a workable way of reducing CO2 levels in the atmosphere by adding lime to seawater. And they think it has the potential to dramatically reverse CO2 accumulation in the atmosphere... Shell is so impressed with the new approach that it is funding an investigation into its economic feasibility.

    There's nothing like the backing of a gigantic oil company that posted a $9 billion net income in the first quarter of 2008 to convince the world that your environmental idea is a good one. Not only does Shell think it's a great idea, they're actually chipping in a few bucks to fund a study to see whether it's worth the money to keep funding the study. Then again, when I owned the Shell Lego Gas Station as a child, gas was regularly under a dollar per gallon -- perhaps they really care about the Earth after all.

    Adding lime to seawater increases alkalinity, boosting seawater's ability to absorb CO2 from air and reducing the tendency to release it back again.

    The chemical symbol, CaO, of lime has been known for many years. However, earlier scientists tended to misinterpret the chemical equation for dissolving lime in water, leading to many unsuccessful experiments.

    Tim Kruger [...] is the brains behind the plan to resurrect the lime process. He argues that it could be made workable by locating it in regions that have a combination of low-cost 'stranded' energy considered too remote to be economically viable to exploit - like flared natural gas or solar energy in deserts - and that are rich in limestone...

    Mr. Kruger also offered other examples of remote energy sources, including gassy rednecks in Ripley, Mississippi, outsourced Dalit on treadmills in India, or New York geeks standing in lime to buy the new iPhone.

    The process of making lime generates CO2, but adding the lime to seawater absorbs almost twice as much CO2. The overall process is therefore 'carbon negative'.

    When asked what would be done with all the surplus absorbed C02, Mr. Kruger directed reporters to his new drink recipe, for a delightful concoction called an "Irish Carbonne".

    This project is being developed in an open source manner. To find out more, please go to [its] new website, launched today.

    For the uninitiated, open source development means that everyone from around the world will contribute fabulous ideas until they get bored or their free AOL accounts expire, leaving only two scientists left behind. These two will grow increasingly antagonistic as their approaches diverge, with one scientist spitefully deleting the other scientist's lime supply and locking the ocean until the slighted scientist gets fed up and leaves. At this point, OPERATION LIME will fork, with the Indian Ocean hosting the "obviously correct" solution for lime dispersal while the other oceans adhere to the "historically accepted" approach.

    Finally, an uninvolved third party will create jLime two years later, which has nothing to do with the original designs, runs in Java, and becomes the defacto standard in lime dumping.

    Willis says alcohol was involved.
    Police rescue, kill man. Alcohol may have been involved.
    Alcohol involved in second-degree burns on testicles

    tagged as newsday, mock mock | permalink | 2 comments

    Wednesday, July 22, 2009

    Interactive Fiction Day

    I've recently begun reading the collected works of Terry Pratchett, a language satirist who everyone else was probably familiar with ages ago. Though it took me some time to get into the first two books, the third (Equal Rites) is quite the charming page-turner (and not just because it isn't separated into chapters).

    When I wrote my text adventure game, Augmented Fourth, while in college, it was often compared in tone to Terry Pratchett, and I can now see the correlation. After reading his first book at the beach, I took a renewed interest in the game I'd created (which is in a genre now commonly called interactive fiction, or IF, instead of text adventures) and put together a second release that fixes a few minor irritating bugs. If you've played it before, there's nothing terribly new to worry about, but new players might find an enjoyable diversion.

    Augmented Fourth is similar to the classic Infocom games from the 1980s, in which you play a failed trumpeter who has been thrown into Orchestra Pit by a king who was displeased by your performance. From this muddy beginning, you type in text commands at a prompt, exploring the Pit, solving puzzles, and eventually gaining your freedom. When I first released it nine years ago, it was nominated for two awards and eventually made it on to a master list of suggested works of modern IF.

    There are a few ways to get started if you would like to play:

  • You can play online here at the URI! Zone to get a taste of the game, although you won't be able to save your progress. Typing "help" will also bring up a tutorial on how to play IF games in general.

  • You can download the Z8 story file (as well as walkthroughs and maps) and then open the story file in a client like Windows Frotz 2002 which will allow you to play more games than just this one. If you have trouble, I can assist.

  • You can also read various glowing reviews of the game, submitted by people I did not bribe.
  • Though I haven't been active in the IF community since the year 2000, I think I might be interested in getting involved again -- maybe I'll write a new game with all the free time I've gained from cancelling my Warcraft subscription!

    Couple loses despite backing every greyhound
    Seal dispute on San Diego beach
    Same-name couple to wed after Facebook meeting

    tagged as games | permalink | 3 comments

    Thursday, July 22, 2010

    Review Day

    There are no spoilers in these reviews.

    Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card:
    This is the second book in the neverending selection of novels from the Ender's Game universe, but I found that I enjoyed it more than the more plot-driven "Shadow" series which I read a few months ago. The connection to the Ender universe was almost unnecessary, and I think the book would have been just as strong with alternate characters involved. Reading this also helped to make sense of the final chapter of Ender's Game which I found to be jarring and tone-shifted. It actually turns out to be more like a first chapter to this book. $8 was a good price for this e-book.

    Final Grade: B+

    Hackers & Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age by Paul Graham:
    Most (or maybe all) of these essays are already available for free online, but I purchased this on the Kindle for some in-flight reading material. It contains a selection of essays ranging on topics from programming to startups, and while all of the essays are well-written and engrossing, some of the conclusions and assumptions in the essays feel unsupported, as if the author came up with an intriguing hypothesis on the way to work and scribbled it down. For the most part, this is fine, since the intent of the essays seems to be provoking deep thoughts, rather than convincing anyone of a specific viewpoint. A couple essays seemed a little long-winded, and $10 is pricey for the e-version (I would have been happy at $8).

    Final Grade: B-

    Joel on Software: And on Diverse and Occasionally Related Matters That Will Prove of Interest to Software Developers, Designers, and Managers, and to Those Who, Whether by Good Fortune or Ill Luck, Work with Them in Some Capacity by Joel Spolsky:
    I had never read or heard of Joel Spolsky's blog before reading this book with an obnoxiously long title, but this came up as a recommendation when I purchased Hackers and Painters. Like that book, this is a collection of already published online articles, but it's not as polished. Several articles contain verbatim pasted content which would have made sense when reading a standalone essay on a website, but which just looks careless when the two essays are placed into consecutive chapters in book form. However, I did enjoy reading the book, and found that it brought a fresh perspective to my daily work in the programming field. Again, $10 is pricey, and I would have pegged the actual value around $7.

    Final Grade: B-

    Walls of fat removed from London sewers
    Workmen ignore badger when painting lines
    Candwich: Quick, Tasty, and Grounds for a Lawsuit

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 1 comment

    Friday, July 22, 2011

    End-of-the-Month Media Day

    New pictures have been added to the Life, 2011 album, documenting our travels in June and July. Remember that you can use the 'N' and 'P' keys to cycle through the pictures once you have opened one. I realize it isn't the true end-of-the-month yet, but Beach Week starts soon, so web updates might devolve into a series of picture posts showing how much fun I'm having while you're trapped in a sandless world, and the best way to start a week of pictures is with more pictures.

    Also in just over a week's time, The URI! Zone will have reached a complete DECADE of blog posts, and 15 total years of existence, so I may have to do something memorable like give away $10,000 or let the domain name expire.

    I've been feeling rather chatty and hoping to restore this blog to its former glory recently, but only when I'm in no position to actually write an update -- as soon as I get home and sit down at a computer, any urge to write and edit a solid update diminishes like the odds of LOST finishing as strongly as it started. I like to take solace in my list of favourite posts though, and hopefully those will inspire me to continue writing here until my future kids are old enough to be embarrassed by it.

    Have a great weekend and week!

    The case of the double-headed gold coins
    Hotel snore controls aim to banish sleepless nights
    Bride's och aye, the poo!

    tagged as media | permalink | 0 comments

    Monday, July 22, 2013

    Weekend Wrap-up

    Rebecca's friend, Elisa, was in town from Columbus this weekend, and on Friday evening, we took her to happy hour at Delmarva's, where the service has improved by at least a factor of 2 since our last visit in the spring.

    On Saturday, we went to the Willowcroft Vineyard for an "ice cream and wine pairing" tasting. It was a nice enough setting, but I felt like the pairing was something of a gimmick -- you could probably pair any given flavour of ice cream with any other wine and come up with something reasonably tasty. After the tasting, we sat outside admiring the view of Loudoun Valley while eating a picnic lunch of cheese. We also met Flint, the winery cat who has more thumbs than you do. From Willowcroft, we drove to Casanel Vineyards, which was more touristy, but gave me a free water for being willing to drive the other two around.

    On Sunday, Elisa had to return early to Columbus, so Rebecca and I lounged around the house eating cheese and cheese-themed meals while watching Arrested Development, Season Four. In the evening, we went to Taste of Burma for a quiet meal to close out the weekend.

    Sidenote: Early Saturday morning, a family of bats decided to move into the wall next to our bed, via a piece of loose siding. It is rather difficult to sleep with cats on your head chasing inaccessible bats all night long. Plans for this evening include a visit to the attic to (hopefully) confirm that the bats haven't migrated into the attic yet.

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

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014

    Zone Updates in Progress

    Phase One is complete. Moving on to Phase Two. No Francie clones are involved.

    tagged as website | permalink | 0 comments

    Friday, July 22, 2016

    Stuff In My Drawers Day

    Here's a cartoon I drew 24 years ago as a high school freshman. It depicts the assembly line process used to make a doofus. If you knew any doofuses growing up, they probably came from this machine.

    tagged as media | permalink | 0 comments

    Monday, July 22, 2019

    Weekend Wrap-up

    Since the best thing to do in a heat wave is drive farther south, we picked this weekend to head to urban heat bubble known as Richmond. Mike and Annie flew in from Vegas early on Friday and we all piled into the trusty Accord to brave the I-95 S vacation traffic. We arrived at the Sam and Kristen's house a little after noon, following a brief visit to the Virginia Welcome Center / Rest Stop so Maia could get out of the car seat a bit (70ish minutes seems to be her threshold before requiring outside entertainment).

    On Friday evening, we grilled some burgers and stayed close to home. Maia got the experience of being the middle child between Owen (3) and Brooklyn (almost 1), and enjoyed jumping on the air mattress the most. She also picked at the faux button depression on the air mattress and said "Corduroy found button in mattress".

    Since Saturday was the hottest day of the heat wave, we tried to spend as much time outside as possible. Maia ran her first sprinkler and ate two popsicles, while we tried to fit 5 adults into 4 adults worth of shade. In the evening, we secured a babysitter willing to watch all three kids and went to the Scott's Addition part of Richmond. This area was a textbook example of a gentrifying onion -- grimy on the outside but full of white hipsters in Ubers in the middle. We walked from The Hof to Verdant for beers and then had an excellent, affordably priced dinner at Tazza Kitchen (I got the rare flat iron steak which everyone else believed to be too rare for human consumption). We closed out the night at The Circuit, a self-serve bar / 80s arcade, where Annie beat everyone at Skeeball with a 330.

    On Sunday, we beat the return traffic and made it back up to Alexandria around noon. We dropped Mike and Annie off at Annie's mom's apartment, which ended up being Maia's favourite part of the trip since it is filled with Christmas trinkets all year round. We then returned to Sterling and stayed in for the rest of the day to recover, while listening to the loud yet underperforming thunderstorms pass through the area.

    How was your weekend?

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

    Wednesday, July 22, 2020

    Stuff in My Drawers Day: July 1992

    Here's what was going on in July 28 years ago, based on our junior high school's Literary Calendar. You can tell it's a high quality calendar because it lists the incorrect date for Jan Berenstain's birthday (and also shows the birthday of an enigmatic author named Heminway, which clearly should be "Hemi-way"). I was 12 and going into 9th grade.

    • Took art classes all day long on Saturdays at the Torpedo Factory.
    • Helped my dad build a shed in the backyard (#1 of 2 through the years).
    • Went camping with my Boy Scout troop at Granite Hill in Gettysburg.
    • Watched my neighbor's yippy chihuahua, Rusty, for 2 weeks.
    • Purchased the VGA remake of Quest for Glory I (with 256 colours!).
    • Hosted a summer party for all of my friends.
    • Went RV camping with my friend, James, for a week around Hershey Park (we mostly sat in the RV and played Zelda: Link to the Past).

    tagged as media | permalink | 2 comments

    Friday, July 22, 2022

    Review Day

    There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

    The De2our by Ekoh:
    I liked a few of this rapper's songs on Pandora so I purchased this album. The marketing around it isn't great, as his three albums are titled "The Detour", "The De2our", and "The D3tour", making them confusingly undiscoverable in searches. Most of this album (De2our) was underwhelming -- nice beats but few great hooks. Ekoh sounds like a cross between Lil Dicky and Chris Webby but doesn't seem to bring anything unique to this style of music that those guys haven't already done.

    Final Grade: C+

    Stranger Things, Season Four:
    This season is self-indulgently long but has a lot of good parts, and works more often than it doesn't. It's not as good as Season Three, but definitely better than Two. There were a couple side plots that I could have skipped entirely (the Russian plot and the reliving the past plot) but I appreciated the way everything came together in the way-too-long finale. Also, the fact that the last two episodes were held over and released after the next month's billing cycle was an obvious money grab from a company losing subscribers like crazy. (We finally unsubscribed this month after 9 years). On Netflix.

    Final Grade: B

    Brooklyn 99, Season Five:
    Pleasant but forgettable, with some good laughs. On Hulu.

    Final Grade: B-

    Only Murders in the Building, Season One:
    We loved this show starring Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez, which brings a fun perspective on true crime podcasts that have thrived over the past decade. Well-paced reveals and eccentric side characters kept us engaged all the way to the end. Watch it! On Hulu.

    Final Grade: A+

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments


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