This Day In History: 07/24

Monday, July 24, 2006

The URI! Zone is undergoing some renovations. Daily updates will resume on Tuesday, August 1, 2006. Thank you for your patience!

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Media Day


Sunset over Colonial Beach

Engaging in an exercise routine which involves running around in circles for twenty minutes with a small toddler on your back

Lucky 7 Poker Night on 7/7/07, where I came in first place for the second time ever, rapidly revealing myself as a pokerial force to be reckoned with (if you ignore all the last place scores from 2006)

I took care of the two gay kitty brothers again last week. Titan (a.k.a. Punchy) spent the entire week high on catnip next to the scratching post.

Making some tasty beef stir fry from raw ingredients. Apparently I have become a hunchback in all of my pictures.

This past weekend, we went camping in Gore, VA, which is northwest of Winchester on the state line. It was located next to the Rock Enon Boy Scout camp, which I'm fairly certain I camped at as a kid.

There were at least five copies of Harry Potter being read at any given time (I finished it yesterday and will post a non-spoilery review tomorrow). Several of the campers also went to Virginia Tech, though I may have graduated at least fifteen years earlier than all of them combined.

Ella performs to "Twist and Shout" in her form-fitting Bimbo Chair

In Memory of Vincent James DiStefano, Anna's "Pop-pop", who passed away last week.

See more photos of BU and the gang
See more photos of cats

Cat Movies

Booty perfects her trapping technique (2MB WMV)
Booty relives her Tallahassee days (2MB WMV)
Amber pulls a Kramer (2MB WMV)
Amber lip-synchs to Nina Persson (2MB WMV)

Happy Birthday to Michelle Cao (yesterday!)

Using the copyright law to escape from prison
The squirrels are revolting
At Roswell Honda, everyone's a winner

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Proposal Day

I spent yesterday afternoon writing up a Statement of Work for a proposal at work, which didn't leave me much time to write anything witty or tearjerking for today's update (especially since I spent most of the evening working on various Java improvements for the next edition of the URI! Zone). The best I could come up with was to title today's post ominously and trick a bunch of people, because it's not about that kind of proposal.

That reminds me of the cleverest episode of Will and Grace I ever watched in Tallahassee (at 6 PM on channel 4 while the Banquet fried chicken was cooking in the toaster oven and Booty was going crazy, running up walls). Grace was trying to trick Harry Connick Jr. into proposing by asking him about a four person seating chart and mixing in the words, Will, you, Mary, and me.

Harry Connick Jr. was also creepy in the serial killer movie, Copycat, which came out sometime in the 90s and was one of the few movies my sister and I ever went to the theater together for (she was on winter break and we went to the movie theater at Bailey's Crossroad where the giant Target sits now). That was also probably one of five total times we socialized together after junior high school.

I could keep on stream-of-consciousnessing and reminiscing for several more paragraphs, but then I would steal Friday's thunder, and you wouldn't know where the lightning was without the ominous rumble and would probably die. So for public safety, I'm turning the podium over to you. There are 21 people pictured below who have posted a comment within the past two years. If you are one of them, your job is to either post an interesting story in the Comments section, or ask one of the OTHER 21 people a question that they then must answer.

The winner of today's little game will be the person who was adopted from farthest away during the Carter presidency, and will win a $10 gift certificate to Amazon.com.


Worker prefers shed to home with wife
Searching for the largest fishies
Sex, blood, and baby names for gasoline

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday Fragments

it's like Crocodile Dundee meets the Pianist

♠ This past Tuesday, I finally went back to the dentist, but since over a year had elapsed, I had to do another "initial inspection" instead of a cleaning. This means that they spend twenty minutes taking X-rays so they can overcharge my insurance provider for useless procedures. As expected, they immediately harped on the time-bomb nature of my wisdom teeth and told me that I should see their oral surgeon.

♠ I then told them that, last year, their oral surgeon had said it would be too risky to have the teeth removed. Their reply was, "Oh, he's been turning down almost everyone, let's send you to a new one." If you knew that, why send me there in the first place? And why does he still work for your office?

♠ Since my X-rays look identical to the way they did last year and in 2005, I'm going to belay any further wisdom tooth exploration and add this visit to my list of times I didn't get teeth out. I'm signed up for a cleaning next week though, and I can also increment my "Cavity-Free for 28 Years" sign by 1.

♠ Speaking of "word-free" signs, here is the comments section from the day Mike (of Mike and Chompy) told his accident-free story. It's a good old read for a Friday morning at work.

♠ I miss the days where I had such a dearth of responsibilities at work that I could slack off and read things on the Internet for the entire day. Nowadays, I'm lucky to go a day without someone accidentally erasing our websites. It used to be that a good 2-3 weeks out of every year were low-key enough to get away with not doing anything, and it's during times like that that I read the entire blog archives of Dooce, Dad Gone Mad, Dating is Hell, and Debaucherous and Dishevelled. (Apparently the key to blogging success is to start your blog name with a D. In August, I plan on rebranding this site as The DURI! Zone).

♠ For the first sixteen months at this job, I was on a dead-end project that required no work whatsoever. The only work-oriented lesson I came away from that with was that content management systems that start with a V and end with "ignette" are surefire ways to destroy your company if not halted early -- treat it as you would treat things that start with a V and rhyme with "iris". However, I effectively used that time to learn JASS and triggers for coding Warcraft III maps and games under the pseudonym, ~CattleBruiser~.

♠ This weekend, I plan to sit down with Inform 7, the new "natural-language" programming language for writing Interactive Fiction that evolved during my nine-year hiatus to determine whether it's brilliant or insane. I'm not sure how I feel about coding a banana in my game by typing "A banana is a fruit. It is edible." -- it seems too touchy-feely, and not at all geeky.

♠ "Coding a banana in my game" is not a euphemism, but it does remind me that I need to pick up a copy of the new remake of The Secret of Monkey Island and enjoy it again as much as I did 19 years ago.

♠ The rest of the weekend will include a barbeque at the home of one of Rebecca's work folks, 400,000 acres of rainforest razing around the globe, and a few hours of work-work on Sunday (bringing my work hours for the past two weeks up to an even ninety hours).

♠ Have a great weekend!

Principal fired for jumping on students
Saucy sausage ads condemned
ATMs defended by pepper spray

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Canada Travelogue, Part II of III

From Quebec City, we drove back down Route 40, catching a funny episode of This Is That (3.4MB MP3) on the radio and stopping briefly in Trois-Rivieres for a lunch of barbeque poutine. Trois-Rivieres was a quaint town, but didn't seem to have much to offer for more than a few hours of entertainment. On the other hand, they were setting up a giant pool on the boardwalk for a wakeboarding competition, and a live chess competition was in progress. Nonetheless, we were back on the road as soon as the poutine was digesting, and made it into Montreal in the late afternoon.

Montreal was definitely a more urban venue than Quebec City -- in my sheltered suburban mind, a city is characterized by graffiti, panhandlers, visible social woes, the piquant flavor of urine infusing each bouquet of oxygen inhaled, and sometimes, a subway. For this leg of the trip, we stayed at the Hotel Les Suites Labelle. I chose it for two winning characteristics: it was built smack dab over the central subway station with easy access to almost everything we wanted to see, and it offered a daily buffet breakfast including eggs and sausage which was bland yet filling. Savvy travelers will know that a free breakfast is good for trimming a whole meal out of your budget (possibly two if you bring Ziploc bags and your room has a microwave). Eggs or meat are required to make it count as a free breakfast -- that "continental" garbage is a scam.

Our hotel was right across the street from a city park, Place Emile Gamelin, the site of a free circus performance which started within minutes of our first trip outside. Les Minutes Completement Cirque was a troupe of volunteers of varying skill levels with the noble goal of launching violas into space. Besides the usual number of dancers, bikers, and acrobats bounding over painfully unsafe city concrete, the troupe also solicited volunteers at the end and gave them all walkie-talkies to participate in a massive flash mob.

After a dinner of neverending pad thai on Rue St. Catherine (roughly on the border between the gay half and the less gay half), we wandered down to the waterfront for the International Fireworks Competition. Saturday night was Canada's entry in the competition, and they impressed us with some unusual, new varieties of fireworks, one of which looked like a hot dog.

It seemed like everywhere we went in Quebec, there was a free festival going on. Canadians were so happy that the temperature had reached double digits, they were ready to celebrate any little event. During our Montreal stay, it was the Festival of Laughs, which we went to for three of our four nights. It was hard to get into any of the standup comedy because none of the comedians used the same slow diction found on my On y va! dictation tapes from the 1990s, but the Place des Arts was generally filled with all manner of crazy events or musical performances. (I also noticed that, for some reason, Canadian musicians exhort the crowd to clap on 1 and 3, not 2 and 4).

On one night, men dressed as horses led a parade onto a stage, followed by a motley crew of dancing aliens, a singing duo who may have been local stars, another singing duo who sang traditional Nunavit songs. The band, Duchamp Pilot, came onstage for some punk rock, while the acrobats from The Voala Project were suspended from a giant crane doing synchronized routines to all of the headbanging beats. The next night, we entered a labyrinth filled with creepy performance artists acting like slightly-off serial killers, and were awarded sample bottles of Pert Plus for our troubles.

For the most part, the continuing heat wave forced us indoors during the day. We took an English tour of the Notre-Dame (a church name almost as ubiquitous as Subway sandwich shops in each town) where we cosmically and coincidentally sat next to an older couple visiting from Alexandria, Virginia. We dropped ten dollars for the Montreal Center of History which was so interesting that we stayed in there for nearly four hours, enjoying snarky and sociology-laden exhibits. We went to the Biodome, filled with capybaras, puffins, and penguins, and followed it up with a visit to the BU wine bar, where we pretended to be classy while listening to a pretentious guy at the next table philosophize to impress his date. Whether it was about the wine or a book he had read, I could not tell, but it provided a nice backdrop to the delicious buffalo-sauce-infused tapas we had with our wines.

The only misstep in Montreal was the Contemporary Art Museum, which cost us $20 to enter. It was sort of interesting, but focused more on art that makes you question what to classify as art rather than cool pictures you'd want to put on your wall. Each work was accompanied by an awful thematic write-up which reminded me of my A.P. English days in which I faked my knowledge of Beloved. After a line of dead rats hanging from a tree and a five minute video of a wolf standing next to a fence, we entered a courtyard with a pissing long-necked monkey. That was about as good as it got, and the museum was so small that we couldn't even dawdle for more than two hours. The museum ended with a video of a Rube Goldberg machine that seemed interesting at first, but after the 80th rolling flaming tire and continuous fade-out shots which proved that the artist couldn't get it working in a single take, we noticed that the whole video was thirty minutes long and left.

For our mode of vacationing, three days was a perfect span to leisurely see everything in Quebec City, and four days was great for Montreal. On the 8th day of our trip, we would flee the cities and drive north to the mountain town of Mont-Tremblant.

Miscellaneous Statistics

  • Nights Stayed: 4
  • Cost: $110 per day, per person ($100 stone sober)
  • Churches seen: 4
  • Metro ranking: Cleaner than Paris, less character than London
  • Desserts eaten: 2 scoops of gelato, 2 scoops of ice cream, strawberry-chocolate crepe, free cheese
  • High Point: Pretending to be classy in the wine bar
  • Low Point: wilting in the heat (Rebecca would argue for the Contemporary Art Museum)

Meanwhile, back home...

To be concluded tomorrow...

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Bat Day, Part II

After the events depicted in yesterday's documentary, we were getting ready for bed on Monday night when we heard the scratching and squeaking of even more bats behind the wall. Like college students in a fire drill, a subset of the bat family had stayed hidden in the babitat during the siding repair, and were now trapped behind the securely duct taped panel.

On Tuesday morning, I got up near dawn to find a fat bat that sat trapped like a rat, half in and half out of a space that was obviously too small to fit through. Through Internet research, I learned that a one-way exit was needed to allow the remaining bats to leave without returning (and also that bat baby season in this area ends around July 15, so you shouldn't try this at home before then unless you plan to start a bat orphanage). I joined the early morning regulars at Home Depot to acquire some fine mesh netting and got to work.

First, I did another quick rinse of the siding to reduce my chances of catching any crazy bat diseases. Next, I unsecured the siding, flushing surprise bat #15 out of the space -- there were still at least two more hidden out of sight. Finally, I donned some heavy duty gloves and held back the tight siding while tapping Fat Bat #16 on the nose until he was able to wriggle backwards and disappear.

I then used the netting (originally sold as "cicada netting" and in abundant stock because we were never invaded in Sterling) to create a bat exclusion filter, which is loose at the top, but then tighter towards the bottom. Apparently, bats fly out joyously, smash into the netting, and fall down to the bottom before successfully flying away. Upon their return, they try to enter at their old entrance near the top, but the netting blocks their entry. And, for some reason, they are unable to come in through the bottom because their flight patterns don't work that way.

Now that there is a Reverse Hotel California on the back of my house, we will continue to monitor for more bats before sealing the siding up again. The bats were definitely hanging out and playing poker last night, but I didn't hear any movement this morning. Either they have left for good, or have taken a vow of silence. Only time will tell.

To be continued?

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Joyful Rebellion by K-OS:
This is an older album by K-OS (whose name I just recently realized should be pronounced as "Chaos" and not "Kay Oh Ess" because I am quick on the trigger). Where Yes! had a few strong tunes and some weird, experimental stuff, this album is more consistent throughout with more songs like the single, Crabbuckit.

Final Grade: B

head or heart by Christina Perri:
Christina Perri has a wonderful voice, but her first album had a few strikes against it -- mainly the fact that she often approached Ewan MacGregor levels of beltiness and the fact that I have to hear Jar of Hearts followed immediately by A Fine Frenzy's Almost Lover every time I go into Safeway. However, I enjoyed this new album a lot, in spite of the fact that every song title starts with a pretentious lowercase letter. Like a new age parent, she keeps the belt in check, and puts out perfectly pleasant pop performances like be my forever.

Final Grade: B+

Wildstar:
I posted my first impressions about a month ago. Since then, I've leveled a Medic, Spellslinger, and Esper to 15, and then took the Esper to 35 in PvP battlegrounds. I have three new thoughts to add:

  • The UI is barely functional and could use a ton of polish. Basic web accessibility isn't followed. For example, to list something on the auction house, you click in the price field, hit Backspace for each digit in the suggested price and then retype the entire new price. You can't just change the Gold denomination independently, and you can't use Tab to move between fields.
  • In spite of the many tutorials, most concepts and feature are poorly explained. Forum and website reading are essential.
  • Questing is as boring as WoW unless you slow down and take the time to read the flavor text.
  • PvP is fun but very chaotic, which reduces the level of skill needed. Premades are a necessity.
Overall, this is an MMO that I'll probably play for another month, just for the PvP battleground experience. I see no incentive to level up in PvE. The game is definitely charming though, and I wouldn't dismiss it for good after cancelling my subscription. I would definitely keep my eye on it and try it again after a few more content patches.

Final Grade: B-

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Friday, July 24, 2015

Munich Day

At a rooftop bar in the hipster district of southern Munich.

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Monday, July 24, 2017

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

The Rainmaker (PG-13):
I missed this movie back in the 90s when I used to read all of the John Grisham books. Though not an amazing film, it hews very close to the book and has some good performances by a very baby-faced Matt Damon and Claire Danes. It also has a 90s orchestral score that feels pleasantly retro today. Free on Amazon Prime.

Final Grade: B

Halt and Catch Fire, Season Three:
This season functions very much like the middle chapter of a trilogy -- it takes awhile before there is any hint of an overarching plot, but all of the great character development in the middle is necessary to reach the point that all the characters arrive at by the end. If you're already tired of the (often whiny) characters, you'll probably not find this season worth watching. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B-

Glow:
I like that Netflix is trying out different things even when they come up with clunkers like Sense8 and Bloodline. This dramedy about the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling takes a few episodes to find its tone, but is a pleasant diversion that ends well. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B

Al Franken: Giant of the Senate by Al Franken:
This book is as funny as you might expect, and is equal parts autobiography, Senate record bragging, and Republican-bashing. The latter gets old pretty quickly -- it will resonate if you're on his same side but distracts from his other points if you're not. I enjoyed that he reserved an entire chapter on bashing Ted Cruz. A good plane ride read -- long but moves very quickly with tiny chapters that make you feel like a faster reader than you probably are.

Final Grade: B

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Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Time-lapsed Blogography Day

BU at multiple data points

  • 27 years ago today, on July 24, 1992, I was packing for a week-long trip to Hershey Park with my friend, James Houck. We stayed in a pop-up camper during the week, and the main thing I brought was my Super Nintendo so we could play A Link to The Past when not at the park.

  • 25 years ago today, on July 24, 1994, I purchased the CD-ROM edition of Betrayal at Krondor, a computer game based on Raymond Feist's Magician series.
  • 24 years ago today, on July 24, 1995, I was at Governor's School. We had a master class with some notable but long forgotten jazz musician who worked through Satin Doll with us but never got further than 4 bars before stopping to critique our poor progress. This poor progress was due to the fact that we had just received the piece and were sightreading, while he presumed that we had been working on it all month long.

  • 23 years ago today, on July 24, 1996, I was doing my first internship at PEPCO and chatting online in the Inn of the Weary Traveler RPG chatroom with a Canadian acquaintance, Judy, who I was unable to relocate in my recent round of outreach.

  • 18 years ago today, on July 24, 2001, I went over to Anna's house to hang out with her family, as well as Ben's family. After going to the pool, we played board games all afternoon long then had McDonald's for dinner.

  • 15 years ago today, on July 24, 2004, I worked on converting a central bookshelf in my basement into a bar.

  • 8 years ago today, on July 24, 2011, we had just arrived in the Outer Banks with Brian & Page, Alice, and Annie. Amanda & Frank and Emily & Brian arrived later.
  • 4 years ago today, on July 24, 2015, we were touring Biergartens in Munich.
  • 3 years ago today, on July 24, 2016, we had dinner at The V and started the second season of Fargo.

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Friday, July 24, 2020

Beach Day

We're off to the beach with a bubble of like-minded quarantiners! Regular updates will resume in August, although I may post occasional beach pics next week if the WiFi cooperates.

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