This Day In History: 08/10

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

In my lifetime, a new type of store has gained prominence: the store with everything you never needed. You walk into one of these bazaars to discover things you never knew existed but which you can't possibly live without. A case in point is the squat metal box currently anchored to the side of my cabinet which I found at Bed, Bath, and Beyond for a mere ten dollars. You can stuff it full of plastic bags after you're done unpacking groceries, and then you take them out the side whenever you need a bag in the future.

I'm not sure which is sadder, the fact that I have a store-bought container to hold containers mounted on a container, or the fact that there's a smaller variety hanging over the litter box specifically to hold bags for scooped litter. That one is made of cloth with a hole on each end, making it a queue instead of a stack (because, God forbid you reuse the newest bag before the oldest one). I guess the saddest part is that I like my container containers, and would buy more container containers if I had a use for them.

There can be too much of a good thing, however, and it's clear that not everything you find in these stores will revolutionize the way you live. Take, for example, the Pet Stroller™ which you can own for $130 at Bed, Bath, and Beyond (obviously falling squarely in the "Beyond" category). I have a feeling any cat you put in there would freak out from the vibrations of the wheels on a sidewalk, and any dog would get laughed at by all its dog friends (unless it had no legs, and really, a dog with no legs is not so hot anyhow, unless it's in a bun). Luckily the Stroller comes with a fabric-enclosed area for privacy so the dog could hide in shame. The cat would just use this area to express its displeasure fecally. The ad copy mentions that you can also use it to haul groceries and laundry. This might actually be useful in far off lands where cats are kept as collateral until you pay your laundromat -- go in with a cat, come out with your dry cleaning (I call it meow-ney laundering).

The king of crazy-crap stores is Brookstone, a store which most savvy shoppers exploit as a quickie massage parlor in their shopping mall routine. Their ratio of stuff people actually buy to stuff that will end up in an infomercial rapidly approaches zero as their inventory goes to infinity (see figure A).

Brookstone is currently selling a $75 talking meat thermometer . Stick it in your grilled meats and it will tell you when to return, up to 300 feet away. This means that you can fire up the grill in the endzone and still run the ball back for a touchdown. No more grill-related touchbacks required! On slow days, you can take the belt pager to work, pretend to answer it, and excuse yourself from meetings because "my meat is calling me". The thermometer can only say two phrases though, which is something of a disappointment considering the costs. I would have expected it to warn people about the hazards of eating red meat, or at least recite a dramatic monologue from the 1992 movie, Le Steak.

Another item in stock is the Remote Control Key Locator . Now, locator devices in general are pretty useful, and I've used the handset locator on my telephone many times (once I found the receiver in the trash, but that was Anna's fault). Perhaps I'm just far too organized for my own good, but I'm thinking that if you need a device which tracks four separate objects, you really need some organization in your life instead. Not to mention that if you can't find the hub, you're four times as screwed.

Speaking of organization in your life (my segues are so smooth that even Bush couldn't fall off one), we have the Container Store. I will be the first to admit that I've never even set foot in a Container Store, but Kim sings its praises regularly, so I figured I'd see what all the fuss was about. I browsed their online store and I have to concede that it's an organizer's paradise. Have you ever stored an opened bag of Eggo waffles in the freezer only to find that ice has made them soggy? Well you can now prevent that with a $2.50 "Frozen Waffle Stay Fresh Container". A search for "Stay Fresh Container" reveals that their store has fifteen different types of container for various forms of decaying food . You might never need to eat leftovers again -- just leave them in the fridge indefinitely!

Every store has its sketchy underbelly though, and the Container Store is no exception. What's wrong? Well, they sell trays that make funny-looking ice . The trays are scary because they look like torture devices for lab rats, and if I saw that ice at a dinner party, I would feel compelled to reform the ice into the shape of the tray, like in that old Game Boy game, Daedalean Opus. That could just be me though because I doubt anyone else in the world bought that game (I also owned Milon's Secret Castle). Either way, you all can enjoy your funny ice cubes and preserved waffles -- I'm content with my plastic bags.

Apparently this kid didn't win on Brat Camp
When your testicles just have to be safe
Mind-reading one step closer to reality

tagged as random, favourites | permalink | 6 comments

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Audience Participation Day

Caption Contest

This photo is taken from an article in yesterday's Post . Your instructions are simple: to submit a funny caption or dialogue for the picture! You can just send me the text if it's self-explanatory, or you may add cartoon speech bubbles if necessary, but you cannot doctor the photo itself to add more smoke. Mail your entries to me at the e-mail address at the bottom of the page (don't put them in the Comments section) by Sunday night and I will post all the entries next week for voting.

The winner will be chosen by my reading public and will receive a $5 gift certification to Amazon.com! For examples of what I'm looking for, take a look at last year's contest or my Pictures of the Year series from 2005.

Dolphin rescued from a Speedo
Buy a floating bed, just don't use your laptop in it
Man dies opening grenade with sledgehammer

tagged as contests | permalink | 0 comments

Friday, August 10, 2007

Friday Fragments

the DeLorean of fragment-based columns

♠ I have the day off today and you don't. Happy Friday.

♠ As I was charging to my Leave account this morning (a grand total of -2 Hours since I worked extra last week), I noticed that I currently have 296 Hours of Leave saved up -- this means that I could ostensibly take seven full weeks off from work and backpack across Europe. Alternately, I could sell it all back and buy a Winnebago (Fully equipped, big kitchen, water bed . . . AM-FM, CD, microwave). I always intend to use up more vacation time, but whenever I get around to charging, it seems like I've worked enough hours to cover the deficit.

♠ Speaking of backpacking across Europe, I submitted all the paperwork for my passport on Tuesday, which means I'll be able to go visit Paige in Spain (she falls mainly on the plain) next year. A trip of this magnitude would mark the first time since my highly-anticipated arrival in 1980 that I've left the North American continent.

♠ I had to submit my Certificate of Naturalization with my passport application, so until it gets returned, I have no recourse should I accidentally get deported in one of northern Virginia's daily immigrant roundups. If you get advance word of such a round-up coming to my heavily Latino neighbourhood, please send me an email so I can hide.

♠ This week, I also purged a decade's worth of email from my hard drive -- no mean feat for a packrat such as myself. I figured I would never again need the complete record of messages I sent out to the MV Trumpets Listserv (since 90% were either "Trumpet football at 4 PM on Sunday" or "First Trumpets stop adding high notes") or Dr. Sochinski's complete lecture notes for HAMS class (even if they did allow me to ace the FSU entrance exams with little to no studying). Here are two random quotes I found amusing while cleaning out my (mail) closet:

    ♠ "Since this is a diversity-funded project, please highlight Keith's (upper left) African-American heritage by darkening the skin tone just a little." -- notes on the draft of a promotional poster I made at Virginia Tech

    ♠ "It's a hell of a lot better than the stuff composed by a guy I know who's a doctoral student in composition at Rice. He's trying to make a go of it in composition because, well, he doesn't have any other real skills." -- feedback about one of my songs from a girl I knew in high school

♠ I would like to warn the audience that nested fragments, which are utilized above, are incredibly dangerous, and should only be used by accomplished Friday Fragments experts.

♠ You may have also noticed that the little icon for a fragment is now a Spade rather than the Club it was in 2006. This is because my membership expired.

♠ Yesterday, I used my Costco membership to stock up on beer for the visit of Mike and Jamie (who arrived late last night, and who will stay through the weekend). They made the thirteen hour trip up from Florida in a single day, and called me enroute from Halifax, a city I've never heard of. I had to look it up on Google Maps.

♠ If you haven't used Google Maps recently, you'll be interested to know that they have a new feature that lets you pick the roads you want to take. Simply plot your location and destination, then drag the blue line between them with your mouse. In this manner, you can favour one road over another. This is the reason why Google will take over the world -- they know exactly how to make things useful!

♠ This weekend, I'll be helping Mike move Jamie into a posh apartment in D.C. It will mark my second trip to D.C. in a single week, since Rebecca and I met up with some of her friends for D.C. Restaurant Week on Wednesday at Georgia Brown's (the Orange Studded Chocolate Mousse Bombs were tasty). After moving day, there will be a very special edition of Poker Night, where the titans of the South (a.k.a. Mike and Jamie of Tallahassee) will battle the titans of the fake North (a.k.a. a rotation of my regular poker players in Northern Virginia) in a fight to the finish.

"It's a fight to the finish. That's a good place to end." -- Mitch Hedberg

♠ Don't forget that this Sunday is 12 of 12. Have a great weekend!

Update on 4Real: Now his name is Superman
Redneck Games irk neighbours
Bulletproof backpacks for kids

tagged as fragments | permalink | 2 comments

Monday, August 10, 2009

Baby Day

real life scenes from the most recent baptism and after party


Gun found on obese inmate after 5 searches
Man blames cat for kitty porn
Ten things we don't understand about humans

tagged as media | permalink | 3 comments

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Museday Tuesday

As part of this feature, which I started in 2007, I compose a very brief work (under 30 seconds) inspired by a randomly generated title from an online word generator. The composition can be for any instrumentation, and could even be a purely synthesized realization that might not be possible to perform in the real world.

I work on the excerpt continuously for an hour and then post whatever I've managed to complete, even if it's a poorly constructed slum of a song supported by a foundation of droning double stops and abused tubas.

Flinty: (adj.) unyielding; unmerciful; obdurate

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

This piece is written for kalimba, which is not a marimba, and assorted percussive sounds. A few clarinet harmonies decorate the later phrases, and the Mr. Businessman chord progression outlines the melody.

Three naked German women found in woods
W. Pa. woman used diaper in traffic beef
Raging US flight attendant makes his personal emergency exit

tagged as museday | permalink | 0 comments

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Memory Day: Snapshots


Based on the heart badge sewn over my heart, the lack of glasses, and the classy British Knights on my feet, this picture was taken in the spring of 1991. Since one of the goals of the Boy Scouts of America is to instill a patriotic distaste for fundraising in the youth, this snapshot shows me and Eric Ruesch selling orchids for Troop 131 at the Safeway in Bradlee shopping center. Besides orchids, we also sold holiday wreaths and tangelos, but were luckily spared from ever having to sell popcorn. Proceeds went towards our summer camp experience.

I have a sense of placid urgency when it comes to my Memory Day feature -- now that I'm rapidly barreling towards 32, my recollection of the day-to-day minutia from childhood is starting to fade. Writing about these memories here would be a good use of my time, if I can ever find the motivation to do so. Are there any parts of my previous 31 years that you'd like me to hit?

Needles are the enemy for balloon dress
Busy NYC Starbucks block sockets to free up seats
Are your coworkers killing you?

tagged as memories, media | permalink | 3 comments

Friday, August 10, 2012

Random Chart Day: Zone Comments

Comments were enabled on this website on April 11, 2003. Since then, there have been 6483 comments posted. Here's a look at some of the people who talk way too much here (counting all of the previous aliases for the people who did weird things like change their last names or decide not to be Jaood anymore).

tagged as data, website | permalink | 8 comments

Monday, August 10, 2015

Weekend Wrap-up

Kicking off the weekend on Friday night, we had burgers at The Counter (mine had melted brie, roasted garlic aioli, alfalfa sprouts, scallions, grilled red onions, and mushrooms, while Rebecca's was smoke-themed with smoked gouda, smokey chipotle, and guacamole).

On Saturday, I rearranged the living room, reverting back to the pre-March 2014 layout which increases entertainment space and reduces sources of TV glare at the cost of reducing coziness and requiring increased TV volume. The living room swap is down to a science, having been perfected over the past 11 years, and I can now do it in under an hour without disconnecting any of the TV accessories.

In the evening, our parents came over for a salmon dinner and to look at our Europe pictures, after which we took a walk around the neighbourhood to enjoy the minimal humidity.

We tried something completely different on Sunday afternoon, and went to a wall-climbing basics class at the local Sportrock. Rebecca had happened to be in Chamonix during some international wall-climbing competition, so we tried it out ourselves, learning how to tie the safety knots and belay climbers. We took a few turns at the end of class on an easy wall route and although neither of us made it to the top, Rebecca got at least 80% of the way there.

After climbing, we had dinner sanwdiches outside at O'Faolain's. We were accosted in the parking lot by a guy trying to pull the standard "my car is out of gas and I need to get to Woodbridge" routine but left without giving him any money -- everyone knows that it's a scam because no one actually wants to go to Woodbridge.

On an unrelated note, you should buy this T-shirt:

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

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Shameless, Season Two (US remake):
Shameless continues to maintain the quality it set up in the first season as it gradually introduces new members of the Gallagher family. It walks the line between pathos and comedy quite nicely and never feels like it's dragging.

Final Grade: B+

Community, Season Six:
After being cancelled on NBC, Yahoo! picked up Community for one final abbreviated season. It's still better than the awful fourth season, and has a few really funny spots, but feels incomplete without Donald Glover. The show owns its meta nature fully now and ends with a fake commercial containing a spot on summation of the entire show: "some episodes too conceptual to be funny, some too funny to be immersive, and some so immersive they still aren't funny".

Final Grade: B-

Drymax Lite Hiking Socks:
I got these socks for our upcoming Colorado hiking excursions. They're made from futuristic synthetics and stay dry and bacteria-free. They're lighter than they appear when worn, and have no inner seam to rub against the top of your foot. My feet felt great after 7 miles, the point at which my big toes usually start hurting.

Final Grade: B+

Person of Interest, Season Five:
The abbreviated final season of this show knocks it out of the park. This final season wraps everything up, giving all of the characters the endings they deserve, with the final three episodes being especially impactful.

Final Grade: A+

Person of Interest, Complete Series:
It's amazing that a procedural CBS "case of the week" show could ever turn out to be a Trojan horse for a serial show about dystopian futures and government surveillance, and even more amazing that it didn't just collapse into a muddled heap of poorly implemented sci-fi. The series has an organic evolution with great supporting characters and recurring bit characters (there are callbacks to characters from the first season in the last season that I didn't even remember). The mismatched buddy nature of Reese and Finch's relationship (and Reese and Fusco's relationship later) was well done. Season Four sagged liked my childhood mattress with the broken bed frame which I had jumped up and down on one too many times. Part of the problem was the introduction of a villain (Samaritan) which was simply too powerful and the feeling that the plot was stalling in order to stretch out to 22 episodes. That said, this is still a great show whose final season makes the whole journey worthwhile. The first four seasons are currently free on Netflix.

Final Grade: A-

tagged as reviews | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, August 10, 2018

List Day: 5 More New Parent Inventions

A follow-up to this post

  • Sink n' Grow: A nanotechnology-based home where the floors get lower as the baby gets taller, so you don't have to keep moving everything on the low shelves just a few more inches out of reach.

  • Edible Batteries: AA Batteries made from a non-toxic, cruelty-free, gluten-free substance that eliminate the need for that annoying tiny screw protecting every battery alcove on every electronic toy.

  • Camo-food: Augmented Reality glasses for baby that make the boring dinner puree look exactly like whatever complex carbohydrate undigestable nonsense dad is eating.

  • Musical Downloadable Content (DLC): Extend your sanity by downloading new songs into your musical toys so you never have to hear Violet's "Morning Song" ever again.

  • Amazon One Hour Delivery Baby Gear: Never pack a baby bag when leaving the house again. Simply set up a list of common needs (stroller, high chair, pack n' play, etc.) and tell Alexa where you're heading when you leave the house. Amazon will deliver low-quality, recyclable versions of these supplies to your destination, be it a trip to Target, a friend's house for dinner, or all of the motels on your road trip.

tagged as lists, inventions | permalink | 3 comments

Monday, August 10, 2020

Weekend Wrap-up

things Amber and I did while Rebecca and Maia spent the weekend at the Smiths in post-beach quarantine

Friday

  • Wrapped up work and spent 6 hours on my web development side gig.
  • Attended a virtual work happy hour celebrating another $500M proposal win.
  • Had shells and cheese for dinner.

Saturday

  • Had breakfast and did the entire crossword without interruption for an hour.
  • Spent 8 hours doing web development.
  • Cleaned the house and steam cleaned the sticky toddler zones.
  • Ran 1.5 miles on the treadmill while rewatching Twelve Monkeys, Season Two.
  • Had a Big Mac meal for dinner.
  • Doused the yard in malathion in an ongoing war against mosquitoes.

Sunday

  • Weeded all of the garden beds, which were getting overrun with crabgrass.
  • Spent 4 hours doing web development.
  • Dusted off the Oculus Rift and downloaded Asgard's Wrath.
  • Took a nap on the couch with Amber
  • Learned how to play a Frozen-themed Candyland when the ladies returned home

How was your weekend?

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

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

List Day: 12 Backlogged Side Projects

  1. Swap out my PC power supply, which currently has a 40% of not turning back on after we lose power in a thunderstorm.

  2. Become fluent in a non-Java programming language (likely Python or Kotlin) in time for Advent of Code 2022.

  3. Migrate away from Eclipse IDE for my polyglot projects, possibly towards something like VSCode or IntelliJ.

  4. Restart work on my open-source library, Sparkour.

  5. Update the URI! Zone's SSL handling to use free, auto-renewing Let's Encrypt certificates.

  6. Update the URI! Zone's ancient reliance on Apache HTTPd, OpenLDAP, and Apache Tomcat, in order to learn more modern alternatives.

  7. Do a visual makeover of the URI! Zone.

  8. Migrate the Maitz & Wurts Studio Shop to a modern storefront solution.

  9. Create a mobile app that shows nearby homeowner and sales information as I walk around the neighbourhood.

  10. Reread the Wars of Light and Shadow series and post book-by-book reviews in anticipation of the final book in the series.

  11. Reeducate myself on the current state of MIDI and wavetable synth, which has surely evolved beyond my 2001 Roland Sound Canvas, and update my old compositions currently lost in Finale file format limbo.

  12. Rip all of the CDs in the house into MP3s and develop a NAS-based solution to play an entire library of owned MP3s from Alexa devices throughout the house.

tagged as lists | permalink | 2 comments

 

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