Posts from 08/2005
This is the inaugural news update for the Tenth Edition of the URI! Zone. From its humble beginnings as the URI! Domain at buri.campus.vt.edu on August 30, 1996, the Zone has grown to epic proportions, now serving as a multinational hub for over seventeen million Internet visitors from eleven countries and twelve major continents.
If you are a regular visitor, you will discover several subtle changes in this new Edition:
Note: Permission is not granted to analyze my handwriting to see if I'm a serial killer, although you may use this sample to fight on my behalf in any court case involving nude pictures I posed for when I needed the money . We all had to start somewhere on our respective roads to stardom.
If you are a Zone-virgin (or a long-lost figment from the murky depths of my past), welcome! This site is a little bit blog and a little bit daily-column, where I rant and/or rave or just talk about the humdrum events of my life (the site has been thoroughly inspected and declared to be angst-free). A good starting place to begin reading might be the news from July 2005 -- deep thoughts from earlier than that are harder to find, buried in a million "what I did today" posts. The 2001 to 2003 posts are a travelogue of my time as a music grad student at Florida State, containing more pedantic musical musings than most non-music people will care about. The 2003 - early 2005 posts are a documentary of my life as a software engineer in the working world (nominated for an Oscar but spurned by the Academy). In addition, I post daily links to peculiar news stories and funny pictures from other sites.
Some eminent Internet scholars have likened my columns to the writings of the Washington Post's Bob Levey, except that I don't give a rat's ass about sending any kids to camp. You can find out more about me here and you can see things I've created, written, composed, or drawn by following the links in the upper menu bar.
I asked four Internet celebrities to coin an advertising slogan for the new site design and they did not fail me. Feel free to choose the one that speaks the most to you as a human being when describing the Zone to your friends and relatives.
What do you think of the new look? Anything you want to see in the coming months? Don't be afraid to leave a comment!
Thanks for visiting. Tell all your friends!Man upset with $4 million price tag on his cardboard box
An ominous plague has been incubating in America's moist spots over the past ten years. It's not contagious and it probably won't kill you, but it will add a certain obnoxious je ne sais quoi to your daily routine. What is this plague? Why it's the boogerspawn of all the laissez faire parents of the 1990s! These parents eschewed the standard guidelines of reinforcement and punishment, out of fear of being labelled an abusive parent, choosing instead to maximize their childrens' empowerment, creativity and joie de vivre. The end result is an enfant terrible who expects to get what they want, with little understanding of how their actions affect the world around them, incapable of realizing that they aren't necessarily the center of the universe (see also, sorority girl).
I looked up "crying brat" on Google Images to illustrate this update, but this was the best they had. The image can be deceiving because it could be mistaken for a harmless youngster telling a knock-knock joke to someone's hard-of-hearing crotch, rather than a true specimen of boogerspawn. To make up for this subpar illustration, I have included four common French phrases in the previous paragraph. You will now be one day ahead when you begin conversational French classes. Je vous en prie.
I am not advocating violence against children (unless you find yourself in Gatlin, Nebraska surrounded by prepubescent cultists and all the other adults are dead, in which case I wholeheartedly recommend that you get the tire iron out of your trunk and start swinging like you've never swung before. Kick their asses and carry some moonbeams home in a jar). I am, however, saying that children need to understand the concepts of limits. In my generation, which is only a few years older than spawn de boogers, we ran the gamut from polite to rebellious, but we always knew how to treat with other people and where the lines were drawn. It's not even a matter of corporal punishment -- we just learned that there was only so much we could get away with before the parental wrath. I sometimes feel like people in our generation (except the stupid ones) should have lots of kids and raise them right, if only to rectify the karmic imbalance caused in the 90s.
If you would like to see a sample of these types of kids but do not live near a school (or you live in South Florida), all you have to do is turn on the horrible reality show, Brat Camp on ABC. Take the repugnant mini-kids from Nanny 911 and turn them into surly, combatative, lying, cheating, angstful, muttering teenagers with nothing to recommend them. Glass bottles in Hawaii and Michigan have more redeeming features than these kids, and one of them looks eerily like that dog molester who was in the news.
The parents of these mumbly pigs throw their hands up in the air because they just have no clue how their angelic kids turned into poster children for compulsory elimination. To cover their mistake, they send the kids off to a wilderness camp where the kids have to shape up or they don't eat. In charge of this cadre of parental neglect are two or three drill-sergeant characters who are incredibly mild-mannered, and have new age names like Fire Shaper! or Exploding Venus! [exclamation points added by ed.] and this is where the show breaks down. Because everything is documented for primetime TV, there is no sense of threat or urgency, and Sergeant Does Limbo In Nude! cannot do much more than mouth empty threats and take away Gold Stars. Threats are virtually nonexistant anyhow, since the drill sergeants choose to empathize with the kids (though it's pretty clear that this approach is not working).
So what you're left with is a show about a bunch of teenagers being little bitches and being put in Time Out behind the cactus stand. They wander shiftlessly around the camp with their furry caps pulled down as far as possible (because it's COOL to have no peripheral vision!) The sad thing is that however reprehensible these kids are (and I would be very tempted to send them to the glue factory if they were my kids and also horses), it's really the fault of the environment they grew up in. There's even a token kid whose crime is having ADHD -- when was that an excuse for parents to send you away to wilderness camp? The very least they could have done to make this show entertaining would be to have a Simon Cowell-esque character constantly degrading the teens, their clueless parents, and everyone foolish enough to give the show positive Nielsen ratings.
The worst part of this show is the feeling of impending doom it leaves you with when you find that ABC has already added a "Season Chooser" combo box to the website, as if there is no doubt in their minds that there will be more seasons to come. When Arnold Schwarzenegger finally gets the rules changed so he can run for President, I will take that position and create a national test which all prospective parents must pass before they are allowed to breed. I will be the sole grader of said test. There will not be a test for television producers, because shows like this give me something to write about.
Disclaimer: I saw about 20 minutes of one episode. I'm sure the last episode will have all the teenagers bonding by holding hands and working together to give mouth-to-mouth to dying deer with asthma, but there was no way in hell I was going to stick around until then.No, not the Audi!
I would say that Monday's 137 visitors counts as a Grand Opening success. People seem to enjoy my new style of updates, so I will continue in the same vein for the forseeable future. To horribly mangle one emailer's thoughts for the purposes of amusing yet inaccurate paraphrasing, my site bleeds sarcasm like a Ham and Cheese Hot Pocket left in the microwave for six minutes too long. The original sentence was "[you have] become increasingly sarcastic in your 25 years". Lame.
I also received several e-mails from people who have been around since the beginning, nine long years ago, when the URI! Domain was a single HTML page and I was being seduced on all sides by website talent scouts promising me Internet fame in exchange for "showing off my llama", as it were. One such missive was a note from my good friend, Holden, who's currently working at a company called Ziclix (see figure on the right). Please excuse the lack of punctuation in the subject -- since he was talking to my computer, it should have been "You, computer, are INFECTED", but Holden has never been great with all that grammar stuff.
Now anyone who has been on the "Information Superhighway" (sometimes called "The World Wide Web", or "Pop" in the Midwest) for more than a few years knows that spywire is a horrible nuisance. Left unattended, a spywire-infected computer can become an anchor point for KGB agents rappelling off the roof and into your office. This is not good for business. As a public service, I decided to download the award-winning Anti-Spywire software and do some benchmarks for the good of all my readers. I diligently followed the link in the e-mail and downloaded the "ho" edition of their software (though truthfully, I have always considered myself more of a pimp).
Installation is very straightforward if you follow the READYOU.TXT. After disabling your Antivirus and Internet Firewall, a double-click on the Installer loads everything up quickly to the default directory. There is an activation step at the end where you have to enter your bank's routing number as confirmation that you are who you say you are, which I think is a much better way to go over biometrics (since it means thugs will be less likely to want to chop off my fingers. You really have to prioritize which digits are more important to you).
To test the efficacy of the software, I sent personal invitations to Matthew Broderick and Jennifer Garner. Matthew, best known for his role as the live-action Inspector Gadget, declined and pointed out that Inspector Gadget does not need wire and would be able to infiltrate any secure office with only his helicopter hat. He recommended I try the "hot girls" from the episode of Fear Factor where they had to walk on a wire between two buildings. I bet the "ho" edition was tailor-made for people of their ilk, but as far as I know, none of them have ever played spies on TV. Jennifer, the actress behind Sydney Bristow on Alias also declined, saying that she can no longer do stunt work while spawn d'Affleck is leasing her womb, especially now that the bulbous protrusion has become a plot device for the next season of her show.
With no other star power in line and a deadline fast approaching, I put Booty on a zip wire with a listening device in her ear and sent her hurtling towards the computer. Before we even had a chance to go "radio-silent", Booty had wiggled out of her harness and abandoned ship, evidently very unnerved by the Anti-spywire software.
Final Recommendation: The software must really work as advertised. And since it also repels Booty, they should really market it as an anti-porn filter too.Cheese in the Baie des Ha! Ha!
I'm giving Jem's Finally Woken CD a solid three-stars. For the sake of interaction, I will let you, the reader, decide what the maximum number of stars should be. As I mentioned in an old post, Jem's music is like a mix between Dido, Butterfly Boucher, and Tali. All her tracks have catchy beats and interesting vamps, and she has one of those high wafty voices that is only annoying 25% of the time. The major problem with the CD is that all the songs have very interesting ideas but don't really follow through on turning them into hit songs. Each song has a point which just cries out for a new melody or some change of pace, but instead, a previously-heard section is just recycled. The songs would even have improved if they just stopped before they got too repetitive, but then you'd be stuck with a CD that's only twenty minutes long. My favourite song on the CD is still the one I heard before buying it, Just a Ride (211KB MP3). Bottom line: listen to some tracks online and see if it's your cup of tea before investing.
Here are my sundry thoughts about music today1:
1: I tried very hard to incorporate a joke about my sundry tomatoes here but luckily for you, I failed.
There have been further developments in last year's accidental death of a summer Crew coach in Alexandria (You can read my original thoughts here ). The parents of the crew coach have sued the Alexandria Crew Boosters organization for wrongful death, seeking both compensatory and punitive damages (including the projected income for the coach, who was planning on becoming a surgeon after college) .
One facet of our society which I'm not too keen on is the blame game. Whenever something goes wrong, fingers and accusations fly in gnat swarms and someone always ends up being the scapegoat, deserved or not, of the problem. A much healthier solution would be to accept that the dastardly event happened, recognize what caused it, and fix it for the future.
I'm sure grief is an incredibly powerful motivator, and perhaps my feelings would be completely reversed were I the parent who lost his son, or if I knew him personally. Without that firsthand experience though, I believe that this lawsuit will not do anyone any good. A large cash sum will NOT bring anyone back to life. Bankrupting a parent-run sports organization will NOT improve boat safety -- this is not some multinational company tacitly dumping toxic waste on playgrounds, it's a group of parents who love the sport of rowing almost as much as their kids in the program.
This was no more and no less than a tragic accident. No one is totally to blame and no one is totally free from it. For every argument stating that the Crew program should have forced their coaches to wear life jackets, there is the counterargument that all the coaches do wear life jackets by choice, and that anyone with more than a couple months of experience under their belt should know better than to hop in a launch without one. For every news story reporting that the Crew program illegally disabled the kill switch on the motor, there is the suggestive thought that a kill switch would have had little bearing on this specific case.
If the people involved are seriously interested in preventing the accident from happening in the future, then the work has already been done -- I'm sure the next few years of Crew members and coaches will be acutely aware of the hazards of the water and more likely to take the appropriate precautions, solely because of word of mouth. Adding litigation to the mix and painting the Crew program as a willfully negligent demon just cheapens the lessons learned, and will have a negative impact on everyone involved for years to come.
If you are a former or present Crew member, I would be interested in hearing your civil thoughts -- please leave a comment. You are also welcome to point any of your rower friends here via this link: .
If you have no interest in Crew, the daily flippancy will return tomorrow. You can visit Florida-Mike's ChompBlog in the meantime, since it just reopened with a brand new look. Here are today's news links:Prisoners rewarded for not escaping into the maw of a tsunami
Yesterday's search terms:
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Today's update was originally going to be a trifecta of Top Ten Lists -- my ten favourite sets of lyrics, my ten all-time favourite contemporary songs, and my ten favourite albums. I was hard at work compiling data in the field (since all good data comes from fields) when I noticed a fairly generous overlap between my first two lists. Striving to take advantage of this, I Venn'd the crap out of the two lists and came up with the Optimus Prime of music lists: five of the songs I really like that also have meaningful lyrics.
Now for the most part, I'm completely oblivious to the lyrics of songs. The words are just another pastel in the pastiche of musical sounds that make the song what it is. This is one roadblock to my singing along with the radio -- though I've heard the lyrics to Green Day's Holiday (which made my June list) a million times, I've never actually "listened" to all the words, so I just mumble vaguely similar phonetic sounds in certain places where I'm unsure (see also, Tatu).
So I'm presuming that these lyrics were reasonably significant to me in my past if they sneaked past my automatic lyrics filter (or alternately, my filter is clogged and needs more charcoal). The interesting part of this whole sordid exercise is that there are recurring themes in all five of the songs, which I never connected together until now: recovering from past mistakes, appreciating today, and unrequited love. Perhaps I'm just a sucker for dramatically angsty yet upbeat songs. I will leave it as an exercise for the reader to psychoanalyze me based on my selection of lyrics, because that's a morass of a minefield I don't want to lose a limb in. Here are the five, in no particular order. The first link leads to the lyrics, and the second link leads to an MP3 sample:
Note for the Curious:
I briefly, fleetingly, considered picking five random songs with ridiculous lyrics to trick the analyzers, but decided to hedge at the ever-so-rare personal touchy-feely blog post instead. Selections would have definitely included I'm the Only Gay Eskimo, They're Coming to Take Me Away Ha Ha, and The Rockafeller Skank. If you want more touchy-feely, you can read the 10 new items I added to my 222 Things About Me list: .
Note for the Unscientific:
Venn'd is the past tense of "to Venn" which means "to draw two overlapping circles and then colour in the football in the middle".
Note for Those Who Can Count:
I'm sure that at least one of you wily mathematicians noticed that I mentioned another list. Here are my picks for great albums:
I could not come up with five more. Most albums suck, even those that have a few good songs, and it's rare to find an album that's solid all the way through. I will definitely have all of these albums with me when I'm ostracized to Elba following my failed coup in Petropavlovsk.Arms up. Arms up!
Yesterday's search terms:
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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
I try to toss in a review at least once a week, but at the time of this writing, I have not seen or heard anything noteworthy since the last time I reviewed something. Maybe I'll make it up next week by unfairly judging two movies or CDs, or maybe I'll just promise to and then wait for everyone to forget about it (see also, guest entries by the winners of the Name-That-Tune contest from January).
While looking at a list of movies coming out soon for ideas on what to see next, I did notice a peculiar one:
This could either end up being a smart black comedy about teenage society like Heathers or a really strange biopic like Napoleon Dynamite which is ultimately pointless. The title is a little bit odd, but I'm presuming that chum is really helping the box office in an otherwise stagnant year (see also, Wedding Crashers where two chums crash weddings, and March of the Penguins where thousands of chum-guzzling penguins walk around and do stuff).
This afternoon, I'm going to be giving the first of three parts of A Whirlwind Tour of Music in a seminar series at work. Every Thursday, someone can volunteer to speak about a technical or not-so-technical topic while listeners eat their delivered food from a local restaurant. Since all good things come in sets of three (with the notable exception of The Matrix, Star Wars, The Karate Kid, and Home Alone), I'll be doing an introduction to reading music, highlights of Western music, and highlights of Jazz over the next three Thursdays. I may post the web pages after I'm all done, but they probably won't be very interesting without all the musical samples and my glorious baritone voice explaining everything.Her desire to cuddle after sex does not justify the extremely violent, brutal response of the defendant.
Yesterday's search terms:
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Yesterday's search terms:
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I would say that my weekend was pretty hectic, but my outlook on such things might be skewed. Having long ago relinquished the title of Social Butterfly of Loudoun County, I consider any weekend busy if I go outside the house more than four times in a single day (bonus points for getting in my car and driving somewhere. Beep beep, monsieur!)
On Friday evening, I cleaned the house and recorded some music examples for my presentation, and then Jack came over for some miscellaneous socializing. Saturday's opener was my typical shopping gambit, where I hit the gas station and the grocery store, pissing off the clerks by getting more cash back than they have in their drawers at such an early hour. I then went to Costco for assorted meat products, followed by Rack Room Shoes for new sneakers. The shoe store turned out to be closed, so I took it as a sign that Saturday-shoe-shopping was not in the cards and went home. Of course, I could have waited around for the mere 20 minutes until opening, but that would be far too logical. Procrastination is in my blood and I am still shoeless.
Florida-Kathy packed up and moved out of the basement Saturday afternoon, so my home is once again squatter-free. I think she stole my hand towel out of the bathroom though. Thief. Around 5, I went over to Chris' in Ashburn to play a $20 poker game with Richard and Chris' friend, William (Chris and Richard were a few years ahead of me in marching band at Tech). Five hours later, I was in 2nd place (which is equivalent to last place when it's winner-take-all). From there I dove into the Bootymobile and hit Anna & Ben's house in scenic south-side Manassas for a second game of poker. I got there too late to jump in, but I did get to deliver my patented FOB chocolate chip cookies (F.resh O.utof B.ox). It's just not Poker Night without my cookies.
On Sunday, I went to Subway for lunch with Kim, who was up in the 'Ling volunteering at Petsmart to clean dirty kitten cages (but really just looking for Booty-rific kittens to steal). I got the 6" Cold Cold Trio on white, which has recently been renamed as the Cold Cut Combo. I think this means they added a piano player, but I couldn't taste any difference. Sunday afternoon was marked with a barbeque for my sister's 29th birthday -- her husband, Dan, and my parents came out as well. Amber stole a Tostito out of the bowl, and also sat on the birthday cake. There was plastic wrap on top, but her inherent gravitational force made most of the words and the frosting come off with the plastic. Incidentally, look at how good I've gotten at dropping the names of the people I associate with -- I like to think of myself as a figurative crossbow bolt of association on a critical trajectory of intersection with the lives of innocent bystanders. (The heck?)
While over at Chris', I was reminded of a fellow who I hadn't thought about in years. Mike Saunders, who everyone called "Hubcap", was a freshman trumpet player in the marching band at Tech in 1998. His name was always on everyone's lips and he was very well-connected for a freshman. The section leaders initially had misigivings about passing his audition because he was some kind of triple major, which meant that he wasn't at practice often. Luckily, he managed to get in as the 64th trumpet (the section was always capped at 63). Hubcap was a stand-up guy and even people in the other sections of the band liked him. He threw great parties, which culminated in his inclusion in the MV Trumpets Slot Machine (3 Hubcaps was worth 10 bottles of Gold Bond).
By the end of the 1998 football season, Hubcap was so popular that he got the award for Outstanding Freshman in the marching band. Unfortunately, he transferred to another school after his freshman year, but even years later, people in the band would always talk about "that Mike Saunders" guy.
So what's the punchline? Mike Saunders did not exist. Mike Saunders was the product of a bunch of bored trumpet players on an Abbott bus to northern Virginia. His name quietly appeared on the trumpet rosters and then everyone made a point to drop his name in any appropriate slot in the conversation. Ridiculous party busted up by the cops? "Yeah, I hear that Hubcap herded all the underagers into a closet so they wouldn't get caught." Someone steal a giant trash can with Vanderbilt University etched on the side? "Hubcap told the field crew he was on the Vanderbilt staff and they believed him, even though he was in a band uniform!" Someone playing the Hokie Pokie four octaves too high? "Sorry, Jay, it was Hubcap."
By the time the embarassing Music City Bowl in Nashville had come and gone, Hubcap was a household name, there were regular sycophants in the woodwind sections who claimed to be his best bud, and the band directors occasionally remarked that he wasn't at practice very often. His lack of attendance was blamed on his 25 credit courseload and the fact that he was constantly travelling to other universities as part of the University Outreach program. I'm reasonably certain we didn't have an Outreach program.
How did Mike Saunders get the Outstanding Freshman award? It's simple math. In a band of 330, the trumpet section was the largest at 63. Hubcap got 20% of the vote without contest, and probably more since we were actively telling other sections to vote for him if they couldn't think of anyone better. Unfortunately the endgame was nullified when word leaked out at the Band Banquet. Before Hubcap could be announced in the awards ceremony, the director had removed the "Mike Saunders" plaque from the trophy and awarded it to the freshman who had been a distant 2nd.
Yesterday's search terms:
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For the life of me, I could not decide what to write about today. I didn't get home until late yesterday, having spent the afternoon sitting in a freezing lab watching automated tests run on a computer I didn't have clearance to touch (easily more boring than watching snot climb up a wall), and I had very little patience for sitting in front of another computer to be creative. I bought an esophagus-clogging quarter pounder with cheese for dinner (it's such a bad idea for me to ever carry cash anywhere) and found that the price has risen by thirty cents, just like the half-tank of gas I used up today in the three hour jaunt through northern Virginia.
For inspiration, I wandered around the house doing random tasks, like taking pictures of the cats. The portaits above are what my cats would look like if you were a very brave mouse standing on your back paws. This gave me the idea of creating some kind of photo-blog entry today, using pictures my dad sent me recently. The picture on the left is of me in 1981 at the 4H Fair. I had just been sneezed upon by a cow and apparently this was not good for business. The picture on the right is of my sister and I with Fred Flintstone. Apparently Fred had some kind of viral meningitis spawning on his right foot. You can also see the iron-on knee patches inside my pants, doing their very finest "George W. Bush's Coat During a Debate" impression.
If that were the whole update, it would suck, much like this update did: . The new URI! Zone is not allowed to suck anymore (your mileage may vary), so I went online to get ideas from the myriad of BU's denizens. I know some pretty smart people, so I figured they would be able to combat this paucity of wit:
Internet 1, BU 0. Since it didn't look like inspiration would be arriving on my doorstep, I gave up. I will leave you all with this story from my youth in lieu of a real update:
When I was in elementary school, sit-ups were part of the Presidential Physical Fitness Test. These were the old-fashioned hands-behind-the-head situps, not those new age arms-across-the-chest ones. Kids would pair up and see how many situps they could do in one minute, then hold the feet of their partner. One year, I was paired up with a kid named Tony, who decided that he would be the first person to break the school record, which was 70 situps in a minute or something ridiculous. He cautioned me to hold his feet as tightly as possible so he didn't slide around on the foot-flavoured rubber mat. I braced him like I was plugging a hole in the dike, the whistle blew, and he was off!
Now Tony had neglected to mention the fact that he'd had baked beans or some similar entrée for lunch. From the start of his very first sit-up, he was painting the elevator like nobody's business, and each expulsion of effort to reach a sitting position was musically accompanied by a contrapuntal line of Fart. His consistency was quite commendable, since he was able to accompany roughly two-thirds of his sit-ups with the musical saw. Kids on either side of him interrupted their workouts and rolled out of harm's way with cries of panic, but Tony was a boy on a mission in a foreign land of sights and smells (but mostly smells).
As promised, I held his feet to the bitter end. Or not so much bitter, as piquant, as only a swirling miasma of poo in the morning can be.
He only made it to 50.Wal-mart tries new approaches to ending shoplifting
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John Basedow is easily the scariest-looking self-proclaimed "fitness celebrity" of them all. John is the promoter of the Fitness Made Simple workout program that regularly advertises during syndicated television shows. He's the guy with the scrawny (yet still out of proportion) head on top of a leathery-chicken-breast body who looks eerily like a friend I had in eighth grade named Ian. If John is the living example of what the fitness program can do for average Joe America, I'm not particularly impressed. Based solely on the pictures and customer testimonials, here is an unscientific list of what you can expect when you use this program:
1) All the veins in your body will be swapped out and put in your head, and all the arteries in your head will be moved into your body. This will give the appearance that your head was a recent morgue prop on an episode of Cold Case, while the rest of you just walked off Miami Beach and fell into a tanning bed for twelve hours on the microwave popcorn setting. (Fun Fact: The blue pigment code of John Basedow's forehead is 222).
2) Your body will shrink, but your head will remain the same size. I think the physics of this is similar to roasting a duck without the hoisin sauce, but I'm not entirely sure. Rumour has it that John Basedow was the artistic inspiration for the South Park character, Mr. Mackey.
3) Small helium balloons will be injected into various parts of your body and inflated to look like a garish effigy of real muscles. The experts are still out on whether this is extremely avant-garde art or just part of John's long term plans to turn the American people into unwitting pack mules for the Mexican drug cartels.
4) You will have to take Before and After shots, though you won't necessarily need to wait between taking the pictures. For the Before picture, destroy your posture, stand in a dark room, and jiggle the camera slightly when the shutter opens. For the After pictures, wear a swim suit and flex, standing straight up and sucking in the gut you still have.
My feelings on the aesthetics of muscles are simple: If your veins look like they were burrowed by earthworms or you seem to have an economy-size case of scabies, you have too many muscles. If you can ever point to a muscle as a distinct entity and you can see where it begins and ends, your muscle is too big. You don't need to have visible muscles to be strong. As a short guy, I must constantly exceed peoples' expectations of how strong I am just to spite the stereotype. This doesn't mean I'm ripped though -- I conceal my muscles behind my baggy clothes and my soft, youthful Oriental skin so that if I ever have to jump a biker in the parking lot of Hooter's to avenge my woman's honour, I'll have the element of surprise on my side. You laugh now, but just wait until that day comes.
I'm planning on starting my own fitness regime with a catchy name like BU BUNS or maybe Muscle Furi! I've already taken the Before and After pictures for your viewing pleasure. The only part missing from the After picture was the hot supermodels hanging off my shoulders like epaulets. If any Zone visitors would like to volunteer for this career-making photographic opportunity, please send me 5x7 or 8x10 glossies of you in a bathing suit and I will get back to you (women preferred).
In a fit of productivity, I also added eleven more Things About Me for you to read . Only twenty more until I have a full list!Bunny saves wife
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The fear of Internet boobies has been taken to the next level, with the Bush administration "objecting to the creation of a .xxx domain, saying it has concerns about a virtual red-light district reserved exclusively for Internet pornography." . Isn't that the whole point of creating the domain? Coupling this domain with a simple rule forcing adult site owners to use the suffix could be very effective. What's wrong with an Internet that keeps boobies from protruding into safe zones by having a street set aside specifically for pornography, Vin Diesel, and Ice Cube?
Some people believe that creating the domain will legitimize pornography, which is just silly. Whether the domain is there or not, it's a simple fact that adult content makes up a very large and visible portion of the Internet. Even the URI! Zone, for all its harmless trappings and fun colours, is really a very peculiar fetish site (you freaks). If all the dirty pictures were rounded up and corralled into the new domain, it would be that much easier for people to avoid it, and my visitors would no longer accidentally fall into a porn puddle by going to www.uridomain.com instead.
I'm sure one of the groups grumbling about the new domain is the Internet filtering industry. If adult sites were clearly identified by the xxx suffix, their already useless parental-filter software would become obsolete, and they would have no further excuses for blocking sites with legitimate content that's politically on the wrong side of the fence. Do people even use or trust filtering software anymore? I have a feeling that the only person standing in line to buy the next version of CyberNanny will be Jude Law, and then only because he has misconceptions about what the software actually does .
The weakest argument of the bunch is from the Family Research Council, who state that "Pornographers will be given even more opportunities to flood our homes, libraries and society with pornography through the .XXX domain." How is registering a new site in the .xxx domain any different from registering www.squirrel-lovers.com and www.squirrel-lovers2.com? There's already an infinite amount of possibilities -- having a new top-level domain does not necessarily mean that site operators will get more creative in their naming schemes or exponentially increase the number of sites they run. If the FRC turns out to be correct in their assumption, I will eat my words and be the first person in line with sandbags to protect the local libraries from the imminent flood of cleavage. Incidentally, I think an avalanche of boobies would be a great way to end a disaster movie. Maybe the hero is stuck in a prosthetics factory and he sets off the boobie trap (!) which rains millions of implants down upon the city of San Francisco. I would definitely see that one in the theatres, even at eight bucks a ticket.
In other news, the residents of Herndon said that they supported the new xxx domain, as long as the servers were not put in their backyards, and as long as everyone browsing the domain could prove they were not visiting illegally. Lobbyists on the other side want an easement on the last caveat, saying that it might cause discrimination against the "barely legal".
Today I present A Whirlwind Tour of Music II: Highlights of Western Music at work. Wish me luck.The bomb is in the baby!
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I sore on a stack of Bibles that I wouldn't t'ache today's update to talk about my weekend of moving and it pains me to go back on that, but I figured that at least I could mention how stiff I am so you'd know that I wasn't just pulling your muscle. I'll spare you the whole soredid tale, but if anyone has some pain-relieving bruise I could quaff, I could leave this world of hurt.
I'll give you a moment to cauterize that horrible introductory paragraph from your brain before continuing.
On Saturday, four of us split an apartment of two into two Apartments of One1, near my old stomping grounds in Alexandria. One of them moved up to an efficiency on Seminary Road and the other moved into the Hamlets, by William Ramsey Elementary where I went to Kindergarten. The apartments were all overhauled and renamed with yuppy-friendly names like Brookdale, Hillwood, and Creekruncliffsloperidge (Indian name), but to me they'll always be the Hamlets. It's just like College Park in Blacksburg -- you might rename it to The Village to attract more non-college kids, but we all see those loud keggers on the third floor through your gauzy veil of obfuscation.
On Sunday, there was more miscellaneous moving and assembling, as well as a trip to Ikea to pick up the one critical piece of the Ikea bed which is sold separately. It was called a Dokka, which is Ikean for "midbeam". My move-o-meter is exhausted for at least a month, so if any of you reader-clowns are going back to college or are planning on getting evicted, I will eloquently decline to help you.
There's a massive bruise on my right forearm, about halfway between my wrist and elbow. People at work today are either going to think I was giving myself hickies, or I'm really bad at shooting up intravenous drugs, and I'm not sure which story I should lean towards. Because I lack the energy to write my original article for today, I'll leave you with a list of three people I knew who used to live in the Hamlets:
Yesterday's search terms:
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1: Legality of this phrase is dependent upon my successful negotiations with the U.S. Army.
I have a little over three weeks until I turn twenty-six -- I got a big laugh at my last music presentation after telling the audience that I wasn't born until three years after A Fifth of Beethoven was mixed by the Walter Murphy Orchestra. For the lifespan of these daily updates, birthdays have not been a big deal; they were just a day where I took off from work and made filler updates like this one , and I think Number 26 will be no different. Since it'll be on a Thursday this year, I may take two days off from my limitless vacation pool and squander them by doing nothing of historical value. I can't even think of any gifts I'm particularly interested in, so if you're having troubles thinking of something, you are welcome to buy me absolutely nothing at all and I will cherish it forever. I like giving gifts more than getting them anyhow.
When you're growing up, birthdays are all about becoming more mature. My birthday coincides fairly nicely with the start of the school year (since by law, Virginian kids can't go to school until Labor Day so King's Dominion's high school employees can get two more weeks of slave labour in). At each birthdate in my formative years, I remember looking back at the previous school year's gaffes, pitfalls, and embarassing moments, and wondering how I could have been so foolish or naïve. I would resolve not to let things like those happen again, and comfort myself with the fact that "I now know better". Of course, it was also naïve of me to think each year that I was as mature as I could ever get, only to revisit the timeline one year later and repeat the exact same thought process. Apparently pattern recognition is not possibly when you apply it to yourself.
Eventually, this cycle of evaluation fades away and you start to realize that you're finally getting older without getting any more mature. Perhaps you have fewer regrets, or you've just run out of stupid situations to fall into, but either way you wake up the day after your birthday (or three if you like your birthdays in bars) and realize that not a whole lot has changed. I'd say that for me this turning point was my 22nd birthday, during my first year in Florida. Yes, I was in completely different surroundings, but I really didn't feel like I had changed a whole lot in the previous year, or learned dramatic new philosophies or epiphanies. I learned new things about the world and myself in the following years, but nothing that would have really made a differencein the previous years -- like I was just buying new mental furniture instead of having to constantly figure out how I was misusing the old.
I think most people go through these two phases of life though they may never put a name to it (and there may be more phases to come, but I haven't lived that long yet). Where people differ is how they react to the realizations. Do they become depressed because they're just getting older without many inner-self-altering changes under the hood? Or are they comfortable because they now have a foundation of character that they can trust to be 100% self? I fall squarely into the latter category -- I'm relieved that the awkward experimentation phase of life is over and probably wouldn't change a single thing about it (even if I didn't always like where things were headed at the time). Though I don't know where the road leads from here, I can see how everything has come together up to this point. Even though I'm not exactly where I expected to be at 25.93424 years of youth, I'm happy with where I'm at, the things I've done, and the people currently in my life.
I don't like life surprises -- I wouldn't want to wake up next year forced to re-evaluate the way things work, so feeling comfortable with my core self means that there's one less thing to worry about should the world decide to shake things up for good or for bad in the coming year. (And the world does do stuff like that. The world can be a little bitch sometimes). Should life-changing events occur now, like great grandchildren, marriage, or partial paralysis from a freak tuna fish mishap (not necessarily in that order), by golly, I'll be ready for them!
I'm also thankful that my mistakes and pitfalls are usually pretty low-key. When a VT friend, Nikki, visited me in Florida, all my Florida friends wanted to hear embarassing stories from my VT years, but she couldn't think of any. When I told Anna I'd introduce her to someone from high school, she said she would want to hear all the shocking stories of high-school-BU. Luckily, enough years have gone by so my high school years are now one seamless airtight alibi of good behaviour and devoid of any embarassing moments. I've been coming into contact with a lot of forgotten faces from high school recently, and all they can remember about me is that I was the "really short kid".
For fun, here are two embarassing moments from my childhood that I would love to do over (both more than a decade ago, so my recent prehistory can remain the parable of flawless behaviour that it is today):
There's another one involving my Freshman Prom, but it's an epic tale and far too long for today's update. If my loyal readers really want to hear it, I'll write it up someday, and then crawl into a hole and hide.
This cat video of Amber is too cute not to post: (631KB WMV)
Happy Birthday Ann Lamond!Piano man was a hoax
Yesterday's search terms:
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The complete set of Calvin and Hobbes cartoons is being released as a massive hardback tome: . This is excellent. Calvin and Hobbes is my favourite comic strip, probably followed in no particular order by The Far Side and the very early Peanuts (the collections from the 1950s). Sluggy Freelance was pretty decent until it decided to start sucking and never recovered.
I can't decide whether it was good that Calvin and Hobbes stopped in its prime, or whether a few more years would have been nice. Two cartoons which should end immediately and unequivocally would be Garfield and the Family Circus. This opinion is rather ironic, since my family owned every single cartoon book in both series when I was a little kid. On Saturday mornings, the only cartoon I ever watched was the Garfield and Friends animated show although I hated its sister show with the barnyard animals. In retrospect, the barnyard show (there was a pig named Orson Welles or something) was probably funnier. Garfield was good for maybe three years tops, and now it's the same tired spider joke told nine million different ways. It's got a cat and sarcasm -- how can you possibly make that winning combination uninteresting? Sometimes I suspect that the creator just erases the words from old cartoons and reuses them in the daily papers. Correction: Occasionally the storyline shifts to involve Mondays, Jon getting a date, or lasagna.
The Family Circus is just painful now, and needs a quick shotgun blast to the circle to put it out of its misery. Somewhere in the past twenty years, the thrust of the comic went from "cute things that kids say, aww how cute" to "boy you really raised some stupid and/or retarded kids". In addition, mentioning the Internet and e-mail in your comic does not automatically make your cartoon topical. If Billy was 7 in 1982 and Billy is 7 today, then he should be living in a fantasy world where e-mail does not exist. For Better or For Worse, at least, did this right. Those kids grew up over the years so talking about current events in the strip made sense. It's scary though, to see how much those kids have aged and realize that you yourself have aged an equal amount.
Let me just add that the Family Circus cartoon on your left is plain creepy. I don't want to know what kind of pictures Bil Keane is hiding on his computer, or how Dolly discovered them. And get that raw buffalo liver off your head, Dolly.
About twelve years ago, I took some summer cartooning classes at the Torpedo Factory in Old Town (this was when I still believed I could be a viable commercial artist without the ability to see reds and greens). I decided that I would create my own comic strip and invented the character, Shar Peng, the Oriental Pencil Sharpener (and his sidekick, Smudge). There were a few supporting characters, like Broccoli Man and T-Bone, and Shar Peng's nemesis was Pencilman. Like most of my projects, this comic strip died to apathy before the first story was ever written. I still have the sketchbook though, because I am a packrat of a higher magnitude. Among other unpolished gems are a sketch of a whale in jail with the caption, "Free Willy", a shadow study of a kneaded eraser which looks like nothing more than a pile of dog poop, and an Eggo waffle with wings (belonging to someone named Luft) .
News flash! It was pointed out that I already wrote about how bad the Family Circus is: . Good to see that I was able to come to the same conclusions independently even if it was a year and a half ago. Two out of two BUs agree that reading the Family Circus is not conducive to high mental reasoning skills.2 women are killed in bizarre accident
Yesterday's search terms:
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Happy Birthday Nancy!When I said 'assassinate' I meant 'hug' and when I said 'Chavez', I meant 'the purple Teletubby and/or Jerry Falwell'
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To give you an idea of how strangely my brain is wired, here is a cautionary tale. I went to Ruby Tuesday for dinner on Friday night with Anna, and we noticed in the menus that they served bison burgers. Anna commented that it was a rather peculiar meat to make a burger out of. In the span of less than three seconds, without prompting and without conscious choice, my brain had begun searching for a punny comment to make about bison, narrowing down a wide field of mediocre contenders to a play on words of "bison-tennial". From that point, the rogue faction of my brain immediately began searching for casual words that sounded like "tennial". By then, the rest of my brain had figured out that some neurons were working off the clock and pulled the plug on the whole venture. I think the neural networks inside my brain have created a lookup table of every word I know for quick reference when it comes to making up puns. Luckily for me, people in my neck of the woods respond to puns with groans, rather than stabbing me with a red-hot poker.
Speaking of poker, I came in 5th out of 8 on Saturday, which is a more affable way to say that I was a loser (but just for that night, of course). I've posted a few pictures on the Photos page . Tom ended up walking away with the big bucks, and Kim and Rosie, the first-timers of the night, ended up in 3rd and 4th place, As is customary for Poker Night, there were tasty cookies for eating and the final hand was decided on the river. Anna, who took second place, always seems to go out on great hands that are killed by the river. In the interests of remaining alive, I did not tell her to "cry me a river". She probably would have shot me.
Speaking of shooting people, AudioBully's remix of Shot You Down is horrible (411KB MP3). I've never understood the whole concept of the remix -- why does every popular song need to be resampled with a thumping bass line for dancing? I don't think the world is necessarily a better place because you can go to a rave and gyrate to Theme from the Godfather. There are very few remixes that are actually worthwhile to listen to -- most of them tend to ignore the interesting parts of the original songs and overdo the whole rhythmic vamp idea. Among other bad remixes I've heard recently are the remix to Kylie Minogue's I Believe In You (which doesn't even use the chorus of the song), and pretty much any remix by the Chemical Brothers.
What's worse than a remix though is a remix by the original artist. There's a short, inane song by Spice Girl, Emma Bunton, called Crickets Sing for Anamaria which is notable only for its planing chords and Latin rhythms. The song is less than 3 minutes long, which is a smart move because there's only about three words in the lyrics and the last half of the song is dominated by people coming (to the scene) . Not content with having a catchy but ultimately useless song, it was remixed as an insipid five minute extravaganza which sounds like nothing more than the parts of Tequila which were scissored out of the sheet music, pooped on, and burned on the mixing room floor. Another useless remix is Eminem's remix of Sing for the Moment where he sings the exact same lyrics to a different beat (217KB MP3). Sure it's catchy, but what's the point? It was just fine the old way.
In my years as a composer, I only ever made two remixes. The first was of Florida-Alex singing solfége to Eminem's Lose Yourself. The second was a club dance remix to Jaood singing The ABC Song. It was a critical success, if not a commercial one, and you can hear it in its entirety here (194KB MP3).
Related to remixes but infinitely better are mash-ups. A mash-up is a mix where you combine elements of two disparate songs into one, resulting in some very cool musical effects. One of my favourite mash-ups is this theme (469KB MP3) from the third season of The Sopranos, where the Theme from Peter Gunn is mashed with Every Breath You Take (I first mentioned this song back in 2002 ). The juxtaposition of the two really makes sense in the context of the scene, where gung-ho FBI agents are overzealously tailing the Soprano family. Another good mash-up is this old one of Coldplay's Scientist with Sum 41's Pieces (596KB MP3), though it really sounds as if Sum 41 just ripped off Coldplay's chord changes. I've also heard some ridiculous mash-ups, like the one mixing Eminem with the theme from Bob the Builder. That one sucked.
Speaking of things that suck, some clown from Poker Night left several bottles of Mike's Hard Lemonade in my fridge. But wait, it's Cranberry and Lime flavoured! And it sucks! Remixes never work when they involve bottled alcohol.
There was some drama this weekend with site slowdowns and missing updates. My site has now been moved to a faster server, so all the problems people noticed on Friday and Saturday should be a thing of the past!So, imagine you're the poor person who decides not to evacuate: Your house will disintegrate around you. The best you'll be able to do is hang on to a light pole, and while you're hanging on, the fire ants from all the mounds -- of which there is two per yard on average -- will clamber up that same pole. And, eventually, the fire ants will win.
Yesterday's search terms:
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Looking Forward to Being Attacked is a light-hearted self-defense manual for women, written by Police Lieutenant Jim Bullard in 1977. The book is in black and white with about 90 pages, and can still be found on Amazon (God bless Amazon). The goal of the manual is to change the mindset of women as victims, providing them with simple self-defense techniques to thwart would-be attackers, molesters, and burglars.
For example, if you are accosted by your local supermarket butcher at the golf course and he's wearing a John Deere hat, there are a few easy tricks you can use to keep him from mugging you from behind. Simply grab the arm that's choking you, take a step forward to the left, and swing him around to your right. Based on the illustration, your attacker will end up with a golf ball up his butt and you can continue on to the eighth hole in peace.
Of course, some situations may result in injury or death, so knocking the attacker on his ass might not be enough. In those cases, you have to create weapons out of the things in your purse, like a set of car keys, a ballpoint pen, or a Chinese ninja star. As Mr. Bullard says,
I tried this advice out myself with all of the above except the rattail comb, because I do not have a rattail, and if I did, why would I comb it? And don't even get me started on where I conceal my toothbrush on trips to the mall -- I don't even own a purse. Using just the car keys, I managed to kill four attackers, and deterred a fifth who was getting too fresh for his own good. I also tried the sword once, but I had to don a cloak and my Boots of Escaping to blend in. I don't think it's as effective, because you really need to be somewhere like a Renaissance Fair or you will cause a panic, and this means that your attacker will also have a sword, or maybe even a Lightning Bolt spell. Lightning bolt!
Of course I couldn't effectively talk about this book on the URI! Zone without mentioning the example on the right. If Carlos Adolfo Dominguez should approach you with a bag on his head while you are waiting for the bus to go to the movies, and he places his hands on your boobies, a quick sidestep and lean will leave Carlos wishing he'd gone to the discotheque instead.
After the step-by-step section on defusing hostile situations, there are some text-only chapters such as "Putting the Old Spark Back in Your Obscene Telephone Calls", and "Don't Shoot the Peeping Tom, He May Be Your Next Door Neighbor!". All in all, this is a very effective use for your ten bucks, and I highly recommend it.
I found this book in a box at my parent's house, so it probably belonged to my mom at some point. I requisitioned it for my coffee table shelf as a fun conversation piece at parties (I throw excellent parties, apparently). When I get to the age where I actually eat meals at a real table rather than the coffee table, my "entertaining" coffee table will be strewn with books such as these, and NOT dull books with pictures of windmills and waterfalls. My feeling is that if you're entertaining guests and they have nothing better to do than look at pictures of China or babies with flower petals accentuating their opium-induced empty smiles, you're not doing a very good job of hosting. However, a manual such as this provides hours of entertainment, especially if you liqour the crowd up and get them to practice the moves in the book.
Happy Birthday Chris Li!Credit Card for Palestinian Bomber
A month ago I posted my Manifesto of Ambitions for the remainder of the year , so I thought I'd take today to show you my progress at becoming an ambitious, determined, self-motivated self-starter (with great people skills). The last day of the month is always some kind of throwaway entry, since all my regular readers are out turning tricks to pay rent on the first of the month anyhow.
1) Finish the sidewalk:
Any regular readers will know that the sidewalk saga ended this month, and now a quaint sidewalk engulfs over fifty percent of my house like an Aztec Pac-Man. I still need to create a planter box on the west side that matches the one on the east, but this task was rained out last weekend. Hopefully it will be finished this coming weekend. Outcome: Success!
2) Give a three-part Lunchtime Seminar at work on music:
The Whirlwind Tour of Music has come and gone and about forty people are now qualified to teach music in public schools. Maybe next year I'll do a couple more, so they can become tenured professors. I will probably never do three in a row again though. Outcome: Success!
3) Start playing trumpet regularly again:
With the exception of 4 - 5 days, I've practiced for a half hour daily all month. I hate the boring parts of practice so I spend more time playing through songs. My tone isn't where I want it to be yet (starting fresh on a Schilke 15 mouthpiece), but I have the endurance to play straight through the Ewazen, and my high range came back quite readily. Outcome: Success!
4) Visit the dentist:
I went to the dentist at the end of July . I never went to the oral surgeon about my wisdom teeth though. I figure they can pry them out of my cold dead body, since death is probably a more effective anesthetic than any dentist-prescribed gasses. Outcome: Success!
5) Resurrect Poker Night / Keep Poker Night Alive:
We've played poker every week except for one of them, and I've won once. We have enough people now where we can get a good crowd every week. In fact, we generally have to only invite people certain weeks so there's no gigantic million hour games going on (we do themed nights, such as "All Hokies", or "Ben's Extended Family" or "Anna's Immediate Family, Set 1 of 8" or "Good Friends From High School That I Only See On Poker Night Because I Never Keep In Touch With Them"). I hope that one of these weeks we do "People Worse At Poker Than I Am". That would be fun, at least for me. Outcome: Success! But No Profit.
6) General Goal - Exercise regularly:
I do sit-ups, push-ups, and a minute amount of biking every day, except on the days where I'm shaping concrete, doing yardwork, or moving other peoples' crap. And boy, have I moved crap this month! Outcome: Success!
7) General Goal - Cook real food more often:
I have decided that cooking real food is useless if you are only cooking for yourself. I have not bought raw meats (excluding hamburgers and hot dogs for festive barbeques) in months. If you want to help me achieve this goal, you need to come over for dinner and I will cook up a storm. Outcome: . Blink tags are so annoying. I wish they were still part of the HTML standard. My entire page would blink just to piss you off.
8) General Goal - Make more of an effort to keep in touch with the old people and the new people:
There was a time when I would not leave a five-mile radius of my house or apartment to be social, and never initiating hang-outs on my own unless I didn't have to go anywhere. Nowadays, I do a much better job at e-mailing people I haven't heard from in a while, visiting old friends, and meeting new folks. Traffic cameras have spied me making the thirty-mile trip to Alexandria and its nearby environs not once, but multiple times this month! Ask anyone who knows me well and they'll confirm that this is something of a mini-miracle, on par with pre-cooked bacon or the discovery of an Eleventh Commandment. Outcome: Success!
So as you can see, I have successfully completed 7 of 8 goals for the month of August. I'm off to a good start! For the month of September, I'd planned to do the following:
I've already sent e-mails to a few band directors I used to work with to see if they have any composing/arranging work for me. If that doesn't pan out, maybe I'll write some fun mainstream jazz charts. As for Zone improvements, I did all those in July, so that can be checked off the list. Since I also shake Booty on a regular basis, that leaves me with just one Thing To Do this month. I guess I could add "Turn 26" but there's not much work involved with that. If you have any ideas for suitable ambitions for me, please share.If a man wanted to wear a cowboy boot - that's the foot he would want.
Yesterday's search terms:
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