07/2006

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Focus

Welcome back from your four-day weekend of drinking and easy women (or, if you spent the time on a retreat at a Bible camp full of old Southern Baptists, "wheezy hymnin' "). I actually worked on both Monday and Tuesday of this week, but to maintain my patriotic facade, I seized upon the excuse to be lazy and not update my web site -- to do any less would be to deny the Amberican way.

These past couple of weeks have found me in a mood of split focus, where I'm really not doing much at all, but I feel as if I have too many side projects going on and can't muster up the enthusiasm to bring any of them to fruition. For example, I have my master bedroom coated in masking tape ready for the walls to be painted PUFFIN BAY GREY but have not yet shown Mr. Miyagi "Paint the Fence". I've done some mockups of the DECADE EDITION of the URI! Zone, slated to be released in August, but haven't picked the improvements I'm actually going to implement. My lawn is mowed but I did not use the string trimmer on the hard to reach spots.

This mood hits me every few years and the only way to beat it is to completely abandon any semblance of productivity for a few days until I get bored and restless. At that point, I'll go back to overcommitting myself and return to being Super BU. So in an effort to be completely useless, I went on a two hundred mile road trip to go to a barbeque where I'm known as "Mr. Brian", watched an entire half of the first season of Veronica Mars, recommended by Kim, which is 100% shameless WB-teen-melodrama but is also a really good whodunit show with complex back stories and witty dialogue, listened to a new Cardigans CD ad nauseum, and played Warcraft until I could barely see straight. The last one netted me a nice new toy from Stratholme, the STAFF OF BAMBOOZLE, which shall aid me in my quest to ERADICATE THE HORDE and also allows me to NEEDLESSLY CAPITALIZE WORDS FOR COMIC VALUE despite the fact that it looks like a giant feather duster. And because of my new hat, everyone thinks my character is from Down Under.

Now it's out of my system and tonight is paint-night.

Happy Birthday Ada Hettinga!

Hitmen are for the birds
The self-driving car
Can you kick it?

tagged as random | permalink | 2 comments

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Memoirs of a BUsha: Ten Years of the URI! Zone

1996 - 1997

I wrote my first homepage on the night of August 30, 1996 at the end of the first week of classes. Being a scholarly freshman concerned about my academics, I was not out partying that night, although my roommate was. I remember this because he stumbled into the dorm room with a girl that was most definitely not his girlfriend (since she was still a senior at his high school) around 2 AM when I was figuring out how online visitors could go to buri.campus.vt.edu to get to my weird page. Surprised to find me quite awake and working on my computer, they quickly did a 180 and departed to have a smoke. I was not totally socially inept or heartless, as I made sure I was asleep when they made their second pass thirty minutes later to prove that lofts are solidly constructed and capable of holding two people at once. Who am I to deny a guy I'd only known for a week the chance to hook up with a Virginia Tech cheerleader?

I listened exclusively to jazz and classical music back then. I did not get into Dave Matthews until the marching band played a halftime show in which we danced to Too Much.

This is me walking down the stairs towards Owens on Band Parents' Day, trying not to look annoyed that my dad was taking pictures every ten paces from AJ to Squires. Note the MEMBERS ONLY jacket from 1990 and the ginormous glasses. In the background, you can see Pritchard, because the New Residence Hall had not yet been built, and that area was reserved for bikini-clad volleyball tournaments.

There was a time when I was more quiet and withdrawn than I am even today. I was more connected to the online crowd in 1996 - 1997 than any year to follow and had very few college friends (or the desire to make any). I had a network of contacts across this country, other countries, and even Canada, most of whom I'd never met and never would meet. This was before knowing people online was cool, and even before knowing people online was dangerous. In these first two years, I knew an unhappy woman from Sydney who wanted to marry an American guy (and eventually ended up on the West Coast in what I can only describe as eerily mail-order-bridish), sent an old Soundblaster soundcard to a friend in Canada who couldn't afford his own, fell hard for a pretty girl in Ontario and learned the hard way about online relationships, knew a girl in Atlanta who was constantly plagued by headaches and said she was into vampirism, lived through that girl's apparent suicide (never confirmed, but she never came back), had to fend off some woman who kept trying to cyber, had a girl from Toronto fall for ME, and helped another girl's mom track her down after she ran away. These people were naive, crazy, normal, young and old. Some were handsome or beautiful while others were just eligible to go to a pimply ho party, but they were all real people with real problems, able to connect through the anonymity of the Internet. Here's an excerpt from an essay I wrote back then which proves that I was the first person to recognize the Myspace Phenomenon, and if I had just gotten the patent I'd be living in a chateau by now:

    In the last episode of "URI! Tells All", I lamented about how today's standard is the suppression of real communication. I think the Net is the last place where such communication still can take place. A friend told me that "The Net is the great equalizer" and it's true. On the Net, people can freely express themselves and trade ideas without many of the restraints set in the real world. I think people have a natural tendency to express themselves, and the Net is a perfect environment for it. Just take a trip around the Net and see how many homepages of the "Hi, I work in a button factory. Here is a picture of my cat." variety you can find. People want to express themselves. It doesn't matter who is listening or how relevant their words are, we all just want to say something, an act that is unthinkable in real life. As well, the friends I've made online are less fake, and talk about their problems more than the people you'll meet face to face. And it's healthy too. Despite the myths that everyone online is looking for cybersex or is an antisocial UNIX guru, there are real people online, but people who aren't online refuse to accept it. I know people who's parents refuse to accept online people as "real people", and parents lament their kids for sitting on the computer all day when they should be out socializing... It is socialization, just in a new and unique form.

I do regret that I kept saying "the Net" like I was in some horrible Sandra Bullock movie. It was hip at the time, I swear.

As my second year of college began, I was disillusioned with online realities, and I resolved to at least make the effort to tear away from the comfort of my online world and make friends with people that didn't bankrupt me through phone calls (Did you know it cost $0.32 a minute to call Canada in 1996? Long Distance charges can eat me). Of course, just as I made that resolution I met a girl still in high school in my home town. Now instead of spending weekends inside hunched over a computer talking to "Kytty" (who eventually DID make it into pharmacy school in Texas), I was spending weekends on the phone or hitching a ride with Roommate Dan back north. So yeah, I don't have many college memories from my first two years of school that actually involved college in some capacity.

Through all the ups and downs, my homepage with its Llama Fanfare soundtrack remained a constant upbeat niche of quirkiness, keeping me in touch with all my high school friends and online friends. It was during those formative years that I decided the URI! Domain would always be a light-hearted place to visit, free of angst and bitterness -- the Internet and life offline had enough of that to go around twice.

To be continued...

Maybe they need a bigger hose
Someone really wants to be Miss Florida
Dinner or Tourism?

tagged as memories | permalink | 3 comments

Friday, July 07, 2006

Memoirs of a BUsha: Ten Years of the URI! Zone

1998 - 1999

1998: The year of Monica Lewinsky, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Google, and Windows 98. Also my junior year of college, Kim's freshman year of college, and Anna's senior year in high school. The year I first had a car on campus (a problem-plagued 1994 Dodge Spirit) and the year I started pulling out of all my online circles and actually going outside.

Now that the novelty of having a website had worn off, the URI! Domain became a big landfill of creativity, a dumping ground for all my music and artwork. Every new composition, short story, MIDI theme, and funny article I happened to read ended up somewhere on the site to be read or ignored by the Internet populace. The Llama Fanfare was also rearranged, reflected two obviously-effective years of state music education .

Having studied HTML and web design for two years and figuring that I was God's gift to JavaScript, I started creating web sites for other people and organizations, always with a smug link back to my own page for credit. I had a couple thousand visits per semester back then which was small potatoes since I couldn't get my site (which was only up when school was in session) to appear on a search engine. I branched out and taught myself UNIX, a little bit of CGI through C++, a little bit of Perl, and a little bit of rock and roll.

After a summer session of Extreme Makeover: Asian Edition, I returned to Tech in 1999 with hair and no glasses, lacking the MEMBERS ONLY jacket and blue Crew cap that defined my outward appearance for the past three years. Being a super fly Asian man and also a Trumpet Section Leader meant that I spent most of the day fending off randy ho's or eating steaks at Jason Chrisley's house, and lacked the time to keep up with my site. In fact, I actually posted a notice at the end of my fourth year at college that said, "The URI! Domain will be closing for the summer in May. This is probably the final year of its existence."

My decision to stop the site was based on the fact that I no longer really kept in touch with anyone that wasn't a five minute walk from wherever I happened to be. Why maintain a site that no one visits? It was also a matter of pride -- every single aspect of the site had been built up from scratch over the past four years, from guestbooks to counters to online video games. Knowing that I was finally moving off-campus for my fith year with the ineluctable Rosie and Anna meant that I would have to relinquish control of the site to a third-party host, where I couldn't just tinker around on a whim. I didn't relish the job of replacing all my custom-coded handiwork with off the shelf scripts and CGI programs provided by any normal web host.

What happened next? Did I bring the site back, or was this the end? You'll never know for sure unless you tune in on Monday!

To be continued...

Happy Birthday Doobie!

Diplomatic immunity good for something
5-Year-Old Girl To Bloody Intruder: 'Get Out'
Top reasons to run into a parked car

tagged as memories | permalink | 1 comment

Monday, July 10, 2006

Memoirs of a BUsha: Ten Years of the URI! Zone

2000 - 2001

For my fifth and final year as a college overachiever, I finally moved off campus to escape the antics of serial fire-alarm pullers and people that threw up in, on, and around dormitory bathroom stalls. I moved into a three-bedroom Foxridge apartment with Rosie and Anna, sacrificing high speed Internet for the master bedroom with a private bathroom and Friday-night pajama'd pillow fights. Having 14.4k dial-up after four years of T1 came as a shock, especially since the connection was shared across three separate computers, and I barely had the patience to wait for CNN.com to load, much less update and maintain a whole website.

For posterity's sake, I had my website labelled as a Historic Landmark. This means I dumped it on a free server (the Virginia Tech Music Department's) with everything that had been in it in previous years, and then didn't do a thing to it all year long. I think I had two and a half visitors all year long. 2000 was also the year we got Kitty, and the initial batch of photographs would be the inspiration for future editions of Cat Media Tuesday, Cat Media Wednesday, and sometimes Cat Media Thursday.

2001 arrived, I graduated, refused to buy a ridiculously overpriced cap and gown, skipped the billion-man-march version of ceremonies, and left Blacksburg, Virginia, leaving behind Kelley Corbett to keep an eye on things (a one year appointment that ultimately stretched into fifteen or twenty before he finally moved to New York). I started music grad school at Florida State in Tallahassee to needlessly prolong my adolescence and was once again in the situation of wanting to keep in touch with people that I no longer saw daily. Thus, the daily updates were born. Because I was still leeching bandwidth off of the Tech Music Department, the site was not very interactive, but people finally had a reason to come back regularly.

The tone of my updates took some time to mature. Initially, all my visitors were people from Virginia, so my early updates were journal-style entries talking about what I was doing in Florida, which horseshoe crabs were sleeping with which other horseshoe crabs, and what beaches I had visited to take pictures of the sun rise. As the readership shifted to be more Florida-centric, I talked more about musical matters, and close-to-home events. I tried several different styles, from daily quotes to fun facts, and finally came up with the simple "here's a picture, here's a paragraph, and here's some links to news stories I find interesting" approach. It may have been dull, but it was regular and I managed to update every day including weekends for many months. You can still read all my original entries by scrolling down the left sidebar to "News of 2001".

To be continued...

Happy Birthday Andrew Simmons!

Judge lets ex-fiance keep $40,000 ring
How not to be inconspicuous
Crime and punishment with a one-two punch

tagged as memories | permalink | 2 comments

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Memoirs of a BUsha: Ten Years of the URI! Zone

2002 - 2003

The first year of grad school was all about figuring things out -- meeting the people that would form the nucleus of the atomic hanging out group, discovering all the hidden fees that Bank of America threw onto every transaction, realizing that grad school was just like undergrad but with more free time, and chatting it up with the cute girl in the office for two weeks until she absent-mindedly scratched her nose one day revealing a wedding band (something you're just not used to looking for first when you're only 21).

After that initial phase, grad school became a blur of comfortable hang outs, painting pictures, playing pool, listening to Mike's rants about how horrible U2 are, or watching a bunch of musicians smoke up and discuss the most unimaginatively stoner-apropo topics until three in the morning. The URI! Zone by this time had become all about the daily updates, and modifications to other areas like the Music and Art sections were few and far between. I really wrote to my audience in 2002, talking mostly about music or school-related topics, with the occasional politics post thrown in. I didn't make anything too racy, because I also knew my students occasionally visited, looking for dirt on their favourite TAs. I remember wasting an hour of my life convincing Justin Barron not to drive home drunk, driving him home, and then sprinting a mile out of the ghetto at 3 AM past the homeless shelter. I remember Booty the new kitten being too much kitten for a one bedroom apartment and running in crazy circles all day long, then being so lonely that she'd pee on the carpet anytime I set foot outside my door. I remember playing Conker's Bad Fur Day with Mark on his first day of quitting smoking in an only moderately successful bid to keep him distracted.

I permanently moved back to Virginia and into an apartment with former roommate Anna in the summer of 2003, which also paired up Booty and Kitty as sumo wrestling champions, and in the first few months of Virginia residence, I only updated the website sporadically. Since I was now "officially" in the real world, I kept myself busy apartment hunting, going shopping, and working on pointless projects at work that would ultimately be cancelled. Once the hubbub died down, I decided that if I was going to have a website, I was REALLY going to have a website. After a highly democratic user poll, I registered the domain name, www.urizone.net (which narrowly beat out www.uriuriuri.com and www.urizoo.net). For those of you who came late to the party, uridomain was not an option because it was already registered to a Japanese porn site. So with much fanfare, The URI! Zone officially opened on November 1, 2003 and daily updates resumed (even on the weekend!)

To be continued...

Follow-up on the Paper Clip Guy
Losing the election to your spouse
he bugs were so thick that they showed up as a rainstorm of mayflies

tagged as memories | permalink | 2 comments

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Memoirs of a BUsha: Ten Years of the URI! Zone

2004 - 2005

When you leave hallowed halls of progressive education, you completely relinquish your frame of reference since you can no longer say things like, "That was when I was a senior" or "I got arrested the summer after I went to France". I actually had to skim over my old posts from 2004 and 2005 to remember everything that happened, which wasn't much. I know the order of major events, but no longer have a good impression of where on my timeline they were tacked.

I feel like I lived at the Elms in Centreville for two years, but it was actually less than one year. I feel like I bought my house in February 2005, but it was actually 2004. I moved fifteen miles up the road from Centreville to Sterling at the same time that my job moved from Sterling to Reston, and for a single day in 2004, my commute was only 1.2 miles long. Now it's 7.0 miles and sometimes I even have to refill my gas tank on the way home! I spent 2004 employing the free expertise of my parents to convert my fixer-upper house into a Pleasure Paradise to rival Biff Tannen's. Anna and Eric were guests at the Hotel AstUri!a and my web site once again became a daily journal -- which room I had renovated and painted electric orange or which homeless panhandler I'd pimp-slapped on the off ramp. The big change here was that I finally canned the incredibly flexible JavaScript system I'd written for posting updates and replaced it with a standard, simpler navigation scheme that Googlebot and other search robots could finally visit with some success. With the whole site open to search engines for the first time in eight years, I finally received an influx of casual visitors, many who ended up sticking around for a long time.

By the time 2005 had rolled around, the tone of the site had gone from being me to being a zany caricature of me, writing a daily column instead of a journal. Eric moved out, Kathy moved in, Kim appeared, Anna married off for two goats and a sheep and moved out, Kathy moved, and the harem moved in. I really picked up the pace on writing around July of 2005, figuring that if I have a website, I might as well turn writing into a daily routine / hobby to further enrich my already storied life. Using the momentum of that month's posts, I held a faux grand opening in August for the 10th year of the URI! Zone's existence and sent mail to everyone I'd ever known from the previous nine years. Many of the people who showed up as curious visitors are still here today, posting regularly in the comments section!

Ex-Roomie is obviously Anna who I first met when she was a freshman trumpet player in the Marching Virginians in 1999. I've lived with her for three of the seven years since then. Beavis (Dan!) was my roommate in 1997-1998 and rediscovered the site in August after my blatant attempts at spamming the entire Virginia Tech cadre. He came to Tech at the same time I did, and so did Doobie the part math-major part tuba guy who threw up in Kelley's sink the year before I lived with Kelley. The following year, Kelley moved in with Philip who transfered to Tech from some hick-town commuter school in 1997. Both Kelley and Philip were trumpet players who occasionally played trios with Shac. After college, Shac went to Canada so he could learn how to suck less at trumpet where he met Brianne. I've never met Brianne myself so I'm presuming she got here through Shac or decided to randomly stalk Virginia Tech alumni one day. With Brianne came John, Canadian lawyer extraordinaire, and another fellow I've never met.

From the Empire Strikes Back years of the URI! Zone come the Florida contingent, starting with Mike, who is notable only because he is Chompy's owner. "Mike's Apartment" is where we spent most of our off-hours in Tallahassee and is also apparently a porn site online, since I get tons of misdirected searches for that term. Kathy used to date Mike and now lives five miles down the road from me with her sugar daddy, Chris. Mark is a composer who lived on the side of my apartment complex bordering the loud raucous frat houses (my side overlooked a quiet cemetary and was a great sleep enabler). Rob lived just two doors down from Mark and played piano on one of my compositions in 2003. I don't have any tongue-out-pictures of the last two because they are always decorous and present themselves with a modicum of class at all times.

Finally we reach the end of the trilogy with folks who've been around for awhile but never came out of the woodwork until this past year. Paige went to Tech with me and moved to Texas to be an elementary music teacher before jetsetting to Spain with her playboy husband where she now learns Spanish, takes siestas, and plays with her dog. Jaood (Mike), I met through playing Warcraft III in days of yore only to discover that he lives right down the road from me. He's now finishing up his last years at Tech, following in the footsteps of the many intellectual giants you read about in previous paragraphs. Another person I met playing Warcraft III online was Rachel who is the only regular visitor that I still have no picture of. Rachel is from Australia and has the annoying habit of waking up when everyone is going to bed, or ranting about our dirty American habits in the comments sections. Gabe also played Warcraft, but is, more importantly, the brother-in-law of Anna. Kim probably never played Warcraft but did go to high school with me, did all the sports I did, and then went to Tech. I think she was stalking me, but that's okay because I have a lot of stalkers, being an Internet celebrity. With Kim came Sam but I haven't seen him comment here recently so he doesn't get a coveted picture slot. Finally of course, there is Mom who has been reading the page since its inception. There is Dad too, but he never comments, preferring to be the silent behind-the-scenes manipulator of the family.

Other than these regular commenters, there are still plenty of daily visitors who just like to read what I write, and I love them all as well. I would love them more if they did a little audience participation, like getting into an Internet argument with Rachel, or telling Mike (of Chompy and Mike) that U2 is great, or dangling their participles in front of Rob. Until then, thank you all for keeping the Zone alive!

Don't Date Him Girl!
Ugly bride derails wedding plans
New margirita kickers

tagged as memories | permalink | 13 comments

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The End

Thank you for accompanying me on my trip down Memory Lane this past week! As the month of July ticks by, the URI! Zone will finally be a decade old, and we will celebrate with Internet chocolate ice cream, or maybe chocolate-coloured hyperlinks on a vanilla background, done tastefully on a plate of CSS. We will also celebrate by sending BU to the Outer Banks for vacation, so there will be no updates for the remainder of the month. You will have to amuse yourself by doing a comprehensive viewing of the Photo Gallery to find more pictures like the ones I posted yesterday.

While I'm gone, please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions about the URI! Zone in the comments section. What did you like? What sucked? Why did you keep coming back every day? What sort of enhancements should I do to the site to prepare it for the eleventh year of its existence? These are the types of essay questions I'd like answered in my absence, and the best answers will win a small prize, like a sand crab or an oddly shaped piece of driftwood.

In all likelihood, the Zone will return pretty much the same as it is now, because the interface today is the result of years of trial and error, and I kind of like it. It's neat-o. But if you suggest something that's ingenious and not much work to implement, you could see your idea in living colour!

See you in August! Happy Birthday Uncle John!

Just buy the damn yoyo
Just enough gas to recoup the tank you wasted waiting in line
ABC hopes to halt fast forwarding

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Friday, July 14, 2006

Happy Birthday Kwan!

permalink | 2 comments

Monday, July 24, 2006

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

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