This Day In History: 09/26

Wednesday, September 26, 2001

Some of the CDs from the library here are in piss poor condition -- I just pulled out a Beethoven piano concerto CD to find a long chasm extending across the entire disc from rim to hole. While it's great for testing out the facility of new dental floss, I'd rather be listening to it.

I've added a picture taken at Fort San Marcos last weekend to my Photos page. The grounds around the fort weren't the most happening place to be, but I kind of like the way the picture turned out.

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Thursday, September 26, 2002

I recently picked up the latest Dave Matthews CD, Busted Stuff, which is a revamped collection of the discarded songs that preceded Everyday. The music is perfectly agreeable, and there's plenty of catchy vamps, but in my opinion, it still doesn't quite measure up to the earlier recordings. It was definitely better than Everyday, which I thought was just a catchy collection of faux pop charts that didn't have much thought go into them. The CD also comes with a free DVD of something Matthews-related, but I haven't gotten around to watching it.

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Monday, September 26, 2005

Tallahassee Travelogue, Part I of II

The city of Tallahassee, with its magical one-way streets and majestic phallic skylines, is almost exactly the same as when I left it two and a half years ago. The air is sticky and humid inside and out, and the buildings have an air of fungal decay, as if all city beautification projects get to 90% and then get cancelled. I only took three pictures while I was down there, and two of them were of Chompy -- I always take my camera everywhere I go, but then forget to actually whip it out and use it. Perhaps I should add "become better at whipping it out and using it" to my list of things to accomplish in October.

I left work early on Friday to finish packing, and then Anna came over to drive me to the airport. We watched the season premiere of Everybody Hates Chris before we left -- I had taped it the night before because I was busy watching Emily Rose and having deep theological discussions over chicken fingers. The show was pretty funny, and blends a lot of Chris Rock's stand-up comedy into the mix. I'll probably end up watching it often if Alias: Season Five, guest starring Ben Affleck's DNA turns out to suck in the same timeslot.

After an hour spent in security at Dulles airport, I boarded my flight to Atlanta. I had a seat right next to the big engines in the back, and the trip was uneventful until we hit some turbulence and the tail of the plane tore off and I ended up on a deserted island in the Atlantic Ocean. I may sell the story of my time on the island to ABC as a series called Lost: South Carolina. Every good show is a franchise nowadays.

Incidentally, someone did a Google search to this site yesterday for Lost and Michael Crichton's novel, Prey. If you watched the season finale of Lost last May, and you've read the novel, you'll understand what they must have been looking for -- it's an interesting theory to think that elements from that novel could have appeared in Lost. I could be less obtuse if I were sure that certain everyones had finished watching the first season.

On the flight from Atlanta to Tallahassee, the captain came on right before we left to say, "There's a problem in the engine we thought we could fix in twenty minutes, but twenty minutes have passed and it's not fixed yet", so we had to "de-plane" and run down the concourse to another plane. I suppose that's a better option than the captain saying, "We haven't fixed this problem but we're going to take off anyhow and see how far we get". This swap gave me plenty of exercise, since I went from Gate B38 to Gate B5 then back to Gate B44. If you've ever been to the airport in Atlanta, you'll understand how far this is -- I couldn't take the golf carts either because there were a disproportionate number of old people that had greater need than I did.

I arrived in Tallahassee about forty minutes late and had dinner at Applebee's with Mike and Kathy where I noted that Tallahasseans smell funny (Everything in Tallahassee smells a little funny, including the buildings, all of which seem to have been varnished in urine). After dinner, which was 11 PM, we went to Mike's (who lives at 222 Lake Ella Drive and whose phone number begins with 222-), where Kathy taught us a new board game, Settlers of Catan. It was fun despite its hex-grid war-game style look. It had a dark-skinned robber that lived in the desert, and you could trade wheat for sheep. The only problem was that she only owned the travel edition, and playing on it was akin to playing Risk on a napkin using boogers as army men.

I slept at Kathy's rather than Mike's because Kathy's couch was 68% less likely to give me a communicable disease than Mike's futon / Chompy's bed. Her place was surprisingly well-decorated for a grad student's apartment, but I found out that this was because she lived with a real person who had a real job. Her roommate, Renée, had didgeridoos hanging on the wall and the complete Illustrated Pocket Classics set, which is a group of classic literary works in tiny abridged books with illustrations on every other page. Those books are the only reason I read any classic literature as a kid, and were better than Cliff Notes when I got to high school. They were probably donated to the library after I went to college, like my complete set of Choose Your Own Adventure Books.

To be continued tomorrow...

Happy day after your birthday, Steve Seltz!

Returning to the scene of the crime
Airliner fakes emergency so passengers can watch soccer game
'Bat' Is Truly a Blot on Man's Day

Yesterday's search terms:
midi file of woodpecker, nude pictures of john basedow, why are dancing squirrels so popular, abrams lost michael crichton's novel prey

tagged as travel | permalink | 7 comments

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Newsday Tuesday

E. Coli Spinach Cases Rise to 173

Details: Over 170 innocent civilians have gotten ill from consuming fresh spinach in the past weeks, and FDA officials have traced the tainted goods back to one of several farms in California. People are cautioned against consuming any fresh spinach until the outbreak has passed.
What it means to me: Smart people who realize that vegetables are merely a vile placeholder in the Ponzi-like pyramid scheme known as the "Daily Suggested Allowances" seem to have escaped the outbreak unharmed. My cheeseburger and I will die at forty-two from a heart attack as nature intended.

Mom-and-Pop to Try Cellphone Payment

Details: A grocery store in Chevy Chase is phasing in a system which will allow customers to pay for their groceries by swiping their cellphones across a sensor. With RFID-enabled phones, customers can store their account numbers in the phone, and receive coupons via text messages.
What it means to me: As the only citizen in the United States who still has yet to buy a cellphone, I will need to make one massive grocery run the day before this kicks in nationwide. The goods I purchase will have to be nonperishable and last me until my heart attack (or until I buy a cell phone).

FBI Is Casting A Wider Net in Anthrax Attacks

Details: Scientists recently discovered that the anthrax used in the big scares five years ago was not as potent as once thought, did not have any special characteristics, and therefore could have been procured by many more people than previously expected. Thinking they had some skunk-class-A-can't-think-straight anthrax, they had limited their investigation to high ranking government scientists with access. Now that it's been revealed to be over-the-counter anthrax, the potential terrorist pool has widened to everyone in the world and everyone they ever knew.
What it means to me: Currently, the FBI is limiting the scope of their "interrogate everyone in the world" investigation to people born in the mid to late 1970s, after an anonymous tip showed them one of the prime sources for ordering anthrax online . Now that I'm aware of how easy it is to obtain anthrax, I may pick some up to add that special punch to my next Halloween party. I can even purchase an anthrax accessory kit from Amazon for six thousand dollars -- a real bargain! "Don't worry," I'll say to my puzzled guests, "I just put a costume on my microwave."

Myspace is the worst website
Hypoallergenic cats go on sale
Three year old buys car on ebay

tagged as newsday | permalink | 1 comment

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Memory Day: The Preserved Past

1990 was the watershed year when Aaron Ulm, Josh Lambert, Sharif Ahmed, and BU graduated from the SIXTH GRADE, a feat which is just slightly more impressive than beating Super Mario Brothers with a Game Genie inserted for permanent invincibility. Every speechmaker you might expect appeared at this ceremony: the musical arrangement by the vocal music teacher (who worked for at least four different schools), a first grader (who said "I wanna be like you!"), a senior (who said "In six years you'll be like me!"), the smart kids TAG teacher, the principal from the elementary school, and the principal from the junior high school we would soon be attending.

In 1992, BU wins Best in Show at the high school science fair. His father makes him wear his Boy Scout uniform to the event to impress the judges during the question-answer period (which, judging from the picture, made BU very happy), and the blue ribbon is far overbalanced by all the high school kids making fun of him for the entire fair.

The year that our junior high school turned into a middle school, BU was a graduating freshman, about to go into 10th grade at high school. All the eighth graders were sent to a limbo quarantine with nothing but ninth graders in it. Because BU's class got a faux prom for graduating, the eighth graders complained that they should get one too, and it was held in the school cafeteria with BU's dad as the photographer. As a result, the Uri progeny spent the evening shuffling annoying eighth graders around, taking photo orders, and checking the lighting of the scene by posing. At least three of BU's comics were sketched on the backs of these order forms .

What's the most efficient way of getting your name in the local paper almost every other week? Simply find the guy who writes the neighbourhood column and get a job where he pays you $5 for every neighbourhood story you bring in. $5 a week for pimping yourself isn't a bad rate, especially when you don't have to put out.

Said Brian, "My experience at Pepco has taught me that delivering mail is inefficient when the mailboxes are not in alphabetical order, there are these things called chat rooms on the World Wide Web, and you can take over the computer of the highest-paid person in the company if he's on vacation and you argue that a fancy computer is a necessity for the high-tech work that you do. Brian is pictured here in one of the Vice President's offices, because "the computer in my cube doesn't have enough ???? for this single web page database you want me to program".

Heavyweights panic as woman dives for ring
Family's last name is offensive to DMV
Crippled asses get healthy

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday Fragments

armed with Category 3 farce winds

♠ The URI! Zone saw a sharp uptick in page views (exactly 222) on Tuesday when I happened to link to the story about cheerleaders taking off their skimpy outfits and putting on something more modest. I need no further proof than that to confirm that you all are perverts and that boobies run the Internet.

♠ I should discuss cheerleaders more often to artificially boost the popularity of my site. I could even create little Flash games where you have to pull cheerleaders out of a human pyramid, Jenga-style, or Strip Hangman, using a disrobing cheerleader as the model. Of course, these tactics might also get my site picked up by the FBI Porn Squad.

♠ On the plus side, my naked dancing cheerleader web games wouldn't get sued by Jack Thompson, the crazy conservative lawyer who tried to tie every school shooting to violent video games, since he was just disbarred in the state of Florida. Good riddance.

♠ It's too bad that you can't disbar a senator (without a two-thirds majority). Think how much more efficiently the election and the economy talks would proceed if John McCain weren't in there being old and such.

♠ I AM looking forward to and/or dreading the upcoming Vice Presidential Debate based on the fact that Sarah Palin's interviews are so awkwardly embarrassing and uncomfortable, that I imagine that the Debate will be like watching an episode of The Office. I recommend that Steve Carell be the moderator.

♠ This weekend, we'll be taking a weekend trip up to Bethany Beach to relax, although the tropical storm and gas shortages are just a little intimidating. Should I get stuck up there without any gas, I plan to unilaterally withdraw from updating this website or going to work until the economy is in a better position.

♠ Have a good weekend!

Teens break pelvises after lying under a car as a prank
David Blaine's latest stunt plummets with viewers
Father abandons nine kids under Safe Haven law

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Weekend Wrap-up

I did a twenty-hour surge of coding over the weekend to bring DDMSence to completion, at the expense of most of my leisure time and my 7th or 8th vertebrae. Now it's just a matter of beefing up documentation and waiting for the alien autopsy files which I bundle into every version to be approved for public release.

When not coding or getting indigestion from eating all of the leftover cheese and crackers from the wedding shower that Rebecca hosted on Saturday, I caught up on my reading, which varies depending on the room I happen to be in at the time. In the kitchen, I'm reading the latest edition of Wired magazine. In the living room, it's The Corner, which essentially embodies the spirit, if not the plot, of The Wire. While I'm in the office, I'm digging through a book on the Unified Modeling Language (this is why I'm trying not to spend much time reading in the office). Finally, my bathroom reading is either the latest Bathroom Reader, or a re-read of Russ Olsen's first Ruby book, depending on duration and motivation.

To close out the weekend, we went to Aoba Sushi on Route 7, our go-to environment for reasonably cheap sushi and friendly staff. Our usual M.O. is to get three normal rolls and a special roll -- this time we got the Las Vegas Roll, which was stacked high with sequin-like fish eggs. We stayed away from the aptly-named American Roll, which had cream cheese and was deep fried.

How was your first Autumn weekend with 100% humidity?

A Campus Champion for Women in Computer Science
Obituary: Electron Boy lit up the lives of many
Three arrested in bungled beer heist in Covina

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

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Memory Day: Fourteen Years Ago Today

September 26, 1998 was a Saturday in my third year at Virginia Tech. I was living with the messiest of my college roommates, Nathan Egge, in East AJ and regularly wore a hand-me-down Members Only jacket to embellish my intentional wardrobe of clothing that didn't quite fit.

This Saturday was Band Parents Day, which meant that my parents were in town to watch the band spell DAD and WOW on the field, and my dad was tailing everyone in my band rank, trying to get them to look at him for picture-taking purposes (candid shots were rarely a part of his photographic palette).

The VT football team was doing rather well, with Al Clark leading them to a 27-7 victory over Pitt, but I cared about football only slightly more than I cared about the Multivariable Calculus class I was apparently enrolled in but had attended only twice since the start of the year. I would ultimately go on to earn a C for this negative quantity of effort, and have never used my multivar skills in the real world since then.

I didn't have to worry about being embarassed by my parents after the game, since they tended to leave Blacksburg without a word sometime after halftime, to beat the inevitable traffic back to I-81 (in the days before Blacksburg had its own super-highways enveloping its campus like a very rural Mario Kart track). Instead, I was invited over to Dave McGarry's townhouse for a post-game barbeque with his brother, Marc. I assume that Doobie was there too, but cannot recall for sure. All I remember of the evening was that Dave-o had recently discovered that putting CDs in the microwave made cool patterns (accompanied by a demo), and that he and his brother had decided that "diadem" was a cool word, and they were going to put up a website at diadems.com. Apparently, that plan never came to fruition.

tagged as memories | permalink | 4 comments

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Watermelon, Chicken, and Gritz by Nappy Roots:
Apparently this album went platinum eleven years ago, but I'm only just now discovering it while diving deeper into the Mark Ronson rabbit hole. The album is full of catchy hooks, clever rhymes (probably the first time I've heard "ferocious" rhymed with "breakin' down bones like osteoporosis", and a healthy mix of different voices so it doesn't all start to sound the same. I especially enjoy the rapper that sounds like a cross between Bert (of Ernie & Bert) and Waluigi.

Final Grade: B+

Bongo Rock by Incredible Bongo Band:
I originally bought this because I enjoyed the bongo-driven arrangement of Apache, also known as "the song that Will Smith danced to in Fresh Prince". However, after two songs, you quickly realize that every bongo solo sounds pretty much like every other bongo solo, and putting together an entire album of arrangements around bongo solos is a pretty tedious affair. Buy a track and listen to it multiple times instead.

Final Grade: C-

Leverage, Season One:
This is a lightweight, charming show about grifters and thieves who only con bad guys, in a Dexter-meets-Alias kind of scenario. The show has a few light chuckles and is harmless fun. I wasn't invested enough in it by the end of the season to keep watching though, and its utility as a treadmill show was zero because there are no subtitles.

Final Grade: C

Orange Is the New Black (guest review by Rebecca):
My favorite Netflix discovery so far, Orange is by the creator of Weeds, but features more sympathetic characters. Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) is a female, liberal arts graduate in her early 30s with a lovable fiancee (Jason Biggs). She has just been sentenced for transporting a suitcase of money when she was 22 for her then girlfriend, a drug trafficker. Ten years later, she has to pack up and do her time. She adapts to life in an all-female prison where power, sexuality, and social stratification are at the center. The prison inmates and staff are introduced as cut-outs of stereotypes, but are richly developed as the season goes on. When we learn that Chapman's female ex (played wonderfully by Laura Prepon from That '70s Show) is in the same prison with her, the plot thickens. The show is intense, but with delicious moments of comedy and joy. I heartily recommend that you walk, do not run, to your nearest Netfix-enabled device, and watch it. Oh, but do get ready for some steamy girl-on-girl sex scenes (but not quite as much sex as Game of Thrones).

Final Grade: A-

Orange Is the New Black (review by BU):
Rebecca binge-watched this series on her summer vacation, during a well deserved break after school and exams. I watched the first three episodes, and probably another half hour total of later episodes while passing through the room, but just didn't get into it. Either you need lady parts to really savor the show, or women's prison has been permanently destroyed as a viable TV show setting thanks to Prison Break: The Final Break. I can appreciate why everyone else likes it, but it just wasn't my thing.

Final Grade: Not Graded

tagged as reviews | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, September 26, 2014

List Day: 25 Things About Google Apps That Annoy Me

  • General
    1. The Grid icon adds a useless extra click when accessing common tools like the Calendar.
    2. Google Plus was a good idea until they forced integration across all of the other tools. I'm glad they're letting it die now.
    3. Every workflow is oriented around the way Google WANTS you to do something, not the way you NEED do it.
  • GCalendar
    1. Google assumes that every event is going to be mappable.
  • GChat
    1. Contacts can only be grouped by "All" or "Most Popular". There's no way to have custom groups.
    2. Contacts are permanently sorted by first letter, and half our company is listed with last name first.
  • GDocs
    1. When you click on a change in the Revision History, the document doesn't scroll down to that change.
    2. Translation between Google formats and Microsoft formats is still laughably awful.
    3. Comments lose attribution when converted to Word.
    4. It takes two clicks just to see the page count.
  • GMail
    1. Deleting an email in a conversation deletes the entire conversation.
    2. I have never found an archived email I was looking for on page one of search results.
    3. Having labels also represent folders is a confusing mental model.
    4. When there are multiple new emails in a conversation, it's easy to miss the older ones.
    5. "Reply to All" often bugs out and refuses to open a draft window.
    6. Creating filters is more tedious than simply deleting the messages.
  • GDrive
    1. The client software causes catastrophic sync errors as soon as you use it on more than one computer regularly.
    2. When I drag something, it's because I want to copy and paste a filename, and NEVER because I want to move it!
    3. Every third or fourth visit, GDrive goes into weird, flashy mode where the page endlessly refreshes until Firefox runs out of memory.
    4. I NEVER want Google to attempt to render a file when I click on it. Just let me download it.
    5. It takes four clicks to download a file.
    6. It takes several seconds for Google to render a file past page one, even if you just opened it a few minutes ago. How about some caching?
    7. GDrive is always syncing your changes whether you like it or not. There is no "commit" option.
    8. Version Control is useless. It takes four clicks to manage revisions when not using the buggy GDrive client.
    9. It is super easy to completely overwrite a file and its history by accident.

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Monday, September 26, 2016

List Day: 10 Facets of My Voting Bloc

  1. I am solidly upper middle class in a double-income no-kids household. I have no debts, other than a small mortgage that will be paid off in the next five years.

  2. I have two bachelor's and a master's degree (unless they took it away because I never use it).

  3. I work as a government contractor in software engineering. While my immediate job is dependent on government spending, my career as a whole is not.

  4. I like to believe I make decisions grounded in science and fact rather than emotion.

  5. I have historically voted for Democratic Presidential candidates but do not vote blindly along party lines. I think John McCain probably would have been just fine as President.

  6. I am not a fan of big government and am aware of how much waste it entails. However, I also recognize that our country is too large and diverse (geographically, demographically, and population-wise) to operate successfully anymore with a much smaller government.

  7. I have no problem paying higher taxes to support infrastructure and social services, even if I don't directly benefit from these services.

  8. I am a moral, if not religious, person but believe that a country's systems should not be used to enforce morality. I believe that allowing morality or religion to influence laws is dangerous -- it's a good idea right up to the point where it isn't anymore, and that point is hard to define.

  9. I recognize that rural white voters have legitimate concerns (that may seem outdated or incorrect to me) simply because of the environment they live in and their lack of exposure to the normalcy of contrasting ideas.

  10. I think our political system has been broken by the effect of private money as well as the immediacy and manufactured outrage of the 24-hour news cycle. However, I don't think there is a better option so we might as well fix the system from within.

tagged as lists, politics | permalink | 4 comments

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Memory Day: 1991 - 1992

In the 1991 - 1992 school year, I was a 12-year-old 8th grader. Still establishing my persona in the middle year of junior high, I was much quieter this year and often signed my name as "Brian the Bestest".

  • To fit a whopping 3 electives into my scheduled, I started the day with an early bird session of gym with Mr. Korns. No one ever used the aged gym showers (a holdover from when Hammond was a high school), so I'm sure we smelled nice for the rest of the day. I remember standing up to an angry classmate while waiting for the bell to ring. He told me, "get out of my face before I steal you", and I refused. The teacher broke it up before he actually punched, but we were cool after that.
  • The band under Mr. Randall was slightly bigger this year, and we constantly played music that was too hard for us. Not realizing it was too hard was probably the only reason we were successful at endless medleys from Camelot, Chorus Line, and other musicals from before our births.
  • I don't remember much about Algebra I or Mrs. Beasley. However, my friend, Ali, was in that class -- his mother once berated me for calling their house and asking "Is Ali there?" instead of "May I please speak to Ali?" then told me to try again and hung up.
  • I spent all of Mrs. Young's English class reading ahead in the reader (I read Leiningen Versus the Ants several times that year) and never knowing where we were in the discussions. As a result, I got punished with the most verbose of the 12 angry men when we read the play aloud in class.
  • I spent fourth period lunch reading alone in the back of the band room because all of my friends (Aaron, Sharif, Mike, Jennie, Michelle, etc.) had 5th period lunch and no one at my assigned 4th period table spoke English.
  • My second elective was French I. I was the kid constantly looking for ways to insult people in second languages, ably helped by Mrs. Gibbs who'd rather I say Tu ne sais rien properly than mangle it.
  • I ended up in a "normal" science class this year because of scheduling difficulties and always seemed to have a new table-mate interested in copying my answers.
  • I ended the day with two semesters of Art but cannot point to a single work of art from that era that would prove it was worth my time. We mainly just flirted with the 7th grade girls in the class while cutting things out for glittery collages.

Physically, I was still very tiny and not particularly athletic, other than an unusually high count for pull-ups and sit-n-reach. However, I started doing Crew in 8th grade simply because I got tired of people suggesting that I'd be a good coxswain. I steered a Senior 4 boat whose coxswain was on academic suspension and hated every minute of it, especially the long bus rides back across the city from the boathouse. Once, the bus driver said, "I'm late getting home so I'm gonna drop you off here", then left me on Duke Street next to Landmark Mall, a good 2 miles away from my house.

I also continued to do Boy Scouts and was already a Life Scout with far too many merit badges, gunning for Eagle. By the springtime of 1992, I had gotten my first pair of glasses and learned that you were supposed to be able to see the individual leaves in trees from far away. This was useless information, as I spent most of my free time playing games like Ultima: Underworld, Legend of Kyrandia, and our brand new Super Nintendo on screens 3 feet from my face. In the summertime, I went Boy Scout camp at Sinoquipe, built the first of several sheds with my dad, did a junior scout leadership camp for a week, and took art classes at the Torpedo Factory.

Other posts in this series: 1979 | 1980 | 1981 | 1982 | 1983 | 1984 | 1985 | 1986 | 1987 | 1988 | 1989 | 1990 | 1990 - 1991 | 1991 - 1992 | 1992 - 1993

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