Posts from 01/2009

Monday, January 05, 2009

Holiday Wrap-up

Happy New Year and welcome back from your hibernal holidays! My version of the holidays closely matched the traditional script, starting with a Christmas party turned engagement party at Rebecca's parents' house. Christmas Eve involved an evening service with a rather puzzling sermon, and a Christmas morning of opening small amounts of loot with my parents. Both matrices of parents were present for a Christmas dinner of roast beef, after which we transposed to the living room for desserts and the viewing of vacation photos.

I spent last week quietly working from home while Booty gnawed on the Christmas tree and Israel engaged in their annual holiday attempts to blow someone up. For New Year's Eve, we went to Kathy and Chris' house for the second straight year, eating stuff, drinking stuff, and playing the caption game while making fun of Georgia Tech and Fall Out Boy.

We celebrated the start of 2009 by driving out to Winchester on New Year's Day, to stay at the Long Hill Bed & Breakfast, our first B&B experience. After our arrival, we descended upon downtown Winchester (in search of a Chair Lunch Dinner), but the pedestrian mall was empty, freezing cold, and shut down for the day -- the only things open were a Thai restaurant and the Cork Street Tavern, where I had the most delicious Philly cheesesteak since I ate at Owen's in 2001. The B&B itself gets high marks though: lots of knick knacks and old stuff to explore, a pinball machine, pool table, and boccerball table, a really tasty breakfast, and a giant indoor Jacuzzi.

After a brief stop in Front Royal to visit Rebecca's cousin, we returned to Sterling on Friday for a weekend of movies, Mario Kart, Chick-fila, worky work, and website work.

Last August, I changed my web counter from popup-infested Motigo to the excellent and highly recommended StatCounter, so I don't have exact numbers on how many visitors the URI! Zone had in 2008. Using interpolation (or extrapolation if you hate Interpol), I calculated that traffic was the same as last year -- over 2000 visits per month, and about 24,000 visits for the year. Despite this, we were collectively unable to reach the necessary 30 signatures in last month's drive to win a gift certificate. Obviously, the URI! Zone is a positive influence in the spread of apathy across the nation.

With the $10 I saved by not buying a gift certificate, I hired myself to make a few website improvements over the weekend. You'll notice a few graphical tweaks throughout the site, and several visitors have been given fresh new Comment avatars for 2009. When you post a comment, you'll also notice that people can visit your own blog or your Facebook profile (subject to whatever privacy settings you maintain on that site) -- simply click on the icon to the upper right of anyone's comment. If you need to change your Facebook ID, or your blog location, send me an email!

2008 in Pictures
Feces-covered man attacks flight attendant
Barkley's DUI caused by need for a BJ

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 15 comments
day in history

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

List Day: 2009 Resolutions

  1. Vacation in various exotic foreign cities, such that when the itinerary is overlayed on a world map, it creates a connect-the-dots image of an armadillo.

  2. Campaign for the creation of a Cabinet post related to an increased consumption of high quality bacon, bringing a more transparent (and literal) interpretation to "pork-barrel spending".

  3. Make new friends in a higher socioeconomic circle -- friends who enjoy wealth and are not afraid to lavish it upon me in exchange for filling a void in their lonely existences.

  4. Achieve a server-first in World of Warcraft by being the first person to get level 81 (nine level 9's will also suffice).

  5. Develop a cathletics program that teaches cats how to play Red Rover, and then sell it to Animal Planet to fill their lucrative Puppy Bowl timeslot.

  6. Consistently run a four-minute mile, or run at least one cumulative mile by the end of the year while listening to the Madonna/Timberlake song, "Four Minutes" on a continuous loop.

  7. Invent a new sub-genre of trance music constructed around thick, muddy Bsus13 chords in every octave. Call it "trance fat".

  8. Costar in a movie with Rachel McAdams featuring full nudity of questionable artistic merit.

  9. Create a mutual fund whose success is solely based on the novelty-factor of its abbreviation. EARWAX is up!

  10. Successfully petition the National Weather Service to change the 2009 hurricane name from "Bill" to "Brian", and then become the first hurricane to completely lift up a tropical island and set it down somewhere else (or just permanently submerge Florida).

What are your resolutions?

Ambulance crew arrested for ignoring dying man
Traditional fairy tales not PC enough for parents
One Hacker's Audacious Plan to Rule the Underground

tagged as lists | permalink | 4 comments
day in history

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Stuff in My Drawers Day: Letters of Recommendation

When I was at Florida State pretending to know something about music composition, I had a top secret source who worked in the music office and lived with Chompy pilfer the secret letters of recommendation from my permanent file.

It's interesting that one of the most impressive skills on my resum? at the time was that I could use Finale to notate music -- so the tunes may have sounded like rats walking through peanut butter, but they looked really pretty. This is similar to my grad school experience, which can be boiled down to the fact that I was the guy who popularized the Technical font. I remember the time I gave a pedagogical presentation on enharmonic modulation, after which Dr. Spencer used most of the question/answer period to talk about how "sharply dressed" my font was.

The other aspect my professors discussed was my prolific output, which roughly translates as "I hate editing". As soon as a score was complete and printed out on my HP LaserPaperJam 4, I'd start fleshing out the next idea so I wouldn't have to deal with glaring problems in the previous one.

Of course, for every great letter of recommendation you can elicit, you also get the one from the Rolling Rock loving professor who would open his Musical Survey class by starting Wozzeck and leaving the room without any explanation or introduction, in hopes of making most of the students drop the class so he'd have fewer grades to deal with. Apparently, he didn't think too highly of our curriculum -- not the entire curriculum per se, just the theory, literature, and history sides of things. I think I'll use this letter as the scapegoat for not getting into Indiana University.

Child elopers "Africa plan" foiled
Burglar scared off by Thor
Victim Forcibly Stripped in Bizarre Pentagon City Robbery

tagged as random, teaching | permalink | 4 comments
day in history

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Weird Search Day

or "how I stumbled upon the URI! Zone"

  • Pee Pee Galore
    This is the name of the Bond girl in the childrens' adaptation of Goldfinger.

  • dreaming of kissing a coworker
    Last year, I wrote an article in which I did NOT kiss any coworkers, which probably wasn't much help to this lovelorn daydreamer. He or she should probably submit a story to the newly reopened Today at Work site, back from a two year hiatus and run by Justin, a former Zone reader.

  • centaurs humping
    I would imagine that the basic positioning of humping centaurs is similar to that of normal horsie humping, and there are plenty of images of THAT on Google. The only difference: the male centaur might try to cop a feel with his all-too-human hands during the act. (There was also a search query for "boinking spaniel" in my logs, but I figured one entry about humping was sufficient).

  • skipping school on friday, monday, tuesday and wednesday, is it obvious?

  • A Muppet christmas: letters to Santa beaker hot chick
    The "hot chick" is Petra Nemcova. In the show, Beaker uses Dr. Honeydew's Wish Machine and ends up with a girlfriend who talks just like him. He then uses the Machine again and vanishes with her for the remainder of the plot.

  • Enharmonic Panic Attack
    I'm stealing this as the too-awesome title of my next jazz chart.

  • onion big booty and pig breast cant stop
    I'm going to presume that this searcher has KTS (Keyboard Tourettes Syndrome), which results in an uncontrollable urge to type random vulgarity on Google. The "cant stop" at the end is obviously a cry for help.

  • reese witherspoon's nose damaged by drug sniffing
    Thankfully, there was no permanent damage to Reese's nose following her court-ordered community service.

  • bologna "desperate housewives " -italy -joe-bologna -joseph-bologna -pony
    I don't even have the first clue about what this person was possibly interested in, although he apparently filtered out any subsearches related to Italy and ponies.

  • craigslist missed connections home depot paint desk
    you looked pretty studly carrying two paint cans in each hand although i wondered why anyone would need that much puffin bay gray. when our eyes met i dyed a little inside but you varnished before i could say hello.

  • low backed dresses that reveal posterior cleavage images
    This could easily be an advertisement for that online quiz where you have to determine whether a shadowy crack is part of an ass or a chest.

  • looking for girls in christiansburg VA that posed nude on the web
    Dear searcher, please keep me posted on what you discover.

  • if it comes to you to watch the infint while the parents are gone give us games online to practice baby sitting
    I'm guessing this poor soul from Miami had just received a babysitting job, and used a strange combination of BabelFish and Google to translate this query from Spanish. If you are a Flash game developer and are looking for the next big thing, try creating an online version of Adventures in Babysitting -- there's a ready market.

  • Judge has sheriff arrested over jail food
    Jiu-jitsu defeats pit bull
    Driver warned of sexual gorillas in jail

    tagged as website, searches | permalink | 5 comments
    day in history

    Friday, January 09, 2009

    Friday Fragments

    devolving the week into fragmented chaos

    ♠ Someone started a Facebook group for T.C. Williams High School Marching Band alumni this week, so I've been busy scanning and uploading a bunch of embarassing photos and reconnecting with long lost members. People in the band were obviously the coolest kids in school, despite the fact that the uniforms made us look like we were in a live action production of the Nutcracker.

    ♠ In my senior year, my dad was the defacto band photographer, and it was my job to take the most recent week's set of pictures to the band room and post them on the bulletin board. Kids could buy their favorite prints for a quarter, and since I was also in charge of sales, I would try to put the ugliest and most horrible pictures in prominent places to increase the profits. I made at least twenty bucks in two months.

    ♠ Twenty bucks wasn't too bad for so little effort, especially since I didn't have a regular job until college. My spending money in high school came from three different sources: a monthly allowance of about thirty dollars, periodic stage crew gigs with the Alexandria Symphony, and the elderly neighbour that insisted on paying for weekly yard work even when it was emphatically clear that work had not been done.

    ♠ In college, my income actually declined, since my summer job was the dead-end internship at PEPCO for $200 per week after taxes. I would not get paid so little again until I became a graduate assistant at Florida State. Truthfully though, I was overpaid for the first year's assistantship since I was helping to run a computer music lab that did not actually exist. Jobs with no work are the best.

    ♠ Plans for the weekend include a trip to Arlington tonight where Rebecca will reconnect with a bunch of Grinnell alumni and reminisce about how flat Iowa was back in the day. On Saturday, I'll have to do some hardcore web development to jump start our wedding site, since we'll be out in Purcellville on Sunday at the winery, signing contracts and finalizing the wedding date. Once that's out of the way, we can move on to the fun stuff, like determining which Bach piece with Ocean Sounds will be played, and who's going to jump out of the cake. Any volunteers?

    ♠ Have a great weekend! Don't forget that Monday is 12 of 12!

    Students put speed cameras to good use
    Husband wants his kidney back
    Girls Gone Wild seeks a federal bailout

    tagged as fragments | permalink | 12 comments
    day in history

    Monday, January 12, 2009

    Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

    It's time for the fourth year of 12 of 12, where you take twelve pictures of your mundane day! You can see more 12 of 12ers at Chad's site.

    5:00 AM: Somewhere in the world, more exciting people than I are just getting to bed at this hour.

    5:56 AM: Traveling down the danger-filled I-66 into the heart of Yuppyton.

    6:04 AM: Driving past Ballston Commons to Bailey's Crossroad.

    7:32 AM: After finishing my early morning tasks, I head home through historic Falls Church, which consists of eight churches and a Comfort Inn.

    7:52 AM: There's probably something poetic about the traffic and the storm clouds, but it's far too early for poetry.

    8:28 AM: Cats are so lazy. This one hasn't moved since 5 AM.

    10:10 AM: At Costco, using my $70 coupon for a set of new tires.

    10:39 AM: Eating the Big Two-Do at Friendly's, which is only $3.99 on weekdays.

    2:14 PM: Later in the day, with four new tires and a full stomach, telecommuting.

    3:49 PM: An afternoon snack of chips and salsa.

    7:08 PM: Shells and cheese for dinner, but a lesser version that's not the delectable name-brand.

    7:58 PM: Ending a day of pigging out with triple chocolate ice cream!

    Sex abuse charity raffle winner is a sex offender
    State Department has sanctions for reply-all
    Pelicans fall out of the sky

    tagged as 12 of 12 | permalink | 12 comments
    day in history

    Tuesday, January 13, 2009

    Newsday Tuesday

    Top Army recruiter weighs fat camp for recruits

    The Army has been dismissing so many overweight applicants that its top recruiter, trying to keep troop numbers up in wartime, is considering starting a fat farm to transform chubby trainees into svelte soldiers.

    The Army tried a similar approach with a series of "Don't Be Gay" camps in the mid '90s, although the success rate from those camps was 0% -- by attending the camps, young people were implicitly breaking the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" rules and forced to leave the service.

    [Maj. Gen. Thomas] Bostick told The Associated Press that obesity looms as "a bigger challenge for us in the years ahead" than any other problem that keeps young people from entering the military, including lack of a GED or high school diploma, misconduct or criminal behavior and other health issues such as eye or ear problems.

    Based on complex computer simulations of this data, various draft-dodging websites have now reported that the least draftable profession would be that of a fat deaf pirate, because of their girth, eyepatch, lack of formal education, and their antisocial thievery.

    The Defense Department has announced plans to boost the active duty Army by 65,000 to a total of 547,000 soldiers by next year, and grow the Marines from 175,000 to 202,000 by 2011.

    It seems like they're taking the incorrect approach in the Marine garden -- instead of growing MORE Marines, they should just be growing bigger ones. Servicemen who have a few extra pounds will seem more intimidating to the enemy, and come with their own built-in body armor that's much cheaper than standard issue. With a little scientific research, we could create an army of obese soldiers with plenty of padding and an impenetrable exoskeleton. The Army's R&D branch states that they are already making progress in this arena, although they are currently waiting for the patent to expire on KFC's Extra Crispy recipe.

    Obesity afflicts recruits for other physically demanding jobs, including firefighters. Deputy Chief Ed Nied, chair of the safety, health and survival section of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, said fire departments are also making a "major push" to encourage better fitness among young people who want to join.

    Deputy Chief Nied is rethinking his "major push" approach after hearing reports about the detrimental effects on firehouse floors from obese firefighters who were pushed down the pole.

    [...] Bostick said a slim-down camp could be part of the new Army Prep School at Fort Jackson, S.C. The school opened in August, and gives recruits who didn't graduate from high school the chance to earn a GED before starting their nine weeks of basic training.

    It is at this camp where recruits retake the classes they failed in high school. Real life applications are stressed, such as geometry lessons on pyramids, and peer mediation lessons about friendly fire.

    "We are getting heavier as a nation as far as our young people are concerned," [recruiter Darryl] Bogan said.

    Bogan's conclusions are based on a recent study that shows that obese Americans now outweigh the merely overweight which put large people on one side of a scale and larger people on the other, then determined which side weighed more. The rest of the research grant was spent on alcohol and women.

    One of Bogan's recruits, 18-year-old Idalia Halley, was shocked when she found she was a few pounds too heavy to enter boot camp. [...] On her second try, Halley said she weighed in at 162 pounds and logged a 30 percent rate of body fat to meet the Army's standard. "I know I've lost some weight because I have to pull my pants up tighter," the Army private said. "And besides, I don't think the food's all that great ? except breakfast."

    In all likelihood, the Army could increase the number of recruits, simply by advertising how good their breakfast is. Everyone loves breakfast, even skinny people.

    Mexico's worst bureaucracy stories
    Computer geeks learn to flirt
    Scary crucifix removed from church

    tagged as newsday | permalink | 1 comment
    day in history

    Wednesday, January 14, 2009

    Caption Day

    recent highlights from rounds of The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Game

    "Your husband said you never did the laundry and you were kind of a slut."

    "Sorry Snoop, I just don't think the new desk is me."
    "Cancel the next diversity meeting!"
    "I think they misunderstood me when I said I wanted to be one of the gang."

    "This just in -- my coanchor is a gigantic pussy."
    "And in local news, I ate my poop."
    "As you can tell from the radar, it's really raining us outside."

    Luckily, the name "Robin" worked both before and after the operation.

    "Relax honey, it's not a race this time."
    "We have to end it. My wife keeps finding strange hares in the sheets."

    Man entices carjacker with hot chicks
    American Idol sues over Stripper Idol
    Wedding bells at Taco Bell

    tagged as favourites | permalink | 4 comments
    day in history

    Thursday, January 15, 2009

    Capsule Review Day

    There may be spoilers for the third season of LOST below.

    LOST, Season Four:
    As the first season where the number of remaining episodes was set in stone, LOST really regained its momentum. Not a lot happened in the first season, but it was new and intriguing. By the time the third season had rolled around, there still wasn't a lot happening, and things had started to drag. By turning the whole flashback storytelling device on its head and giving us glimpses of what happens in the future when some people have escaped, the story once again feels like it's worth watching.

    The only negative is the introduction of an entire slew of new characters -- though good, they take time away from the originals, and red-headed Charlotte, in particular, is an annoying character who probably won't shine until next season (which starts next Wednesday). I feel the same way about her as I did about Ana Lucia: she might have a compelling story in the future, but I already hate her for her extended bitchy introduction.

    This season also had one of the best episodes of the series: The Constant.

    Final Grade: A-

    Tales of Beedle the Bard:
    An extremely brief supplementary book to the Harry Potter series, this novella is a collection of short stories supposedly read by the main characters in the final REAL Harry Potter book. It won't take more than a half hour to read, but shows just as much polish as the real thing -- worth it (at only $7) if you're a Potter fan.

    Final Grade: B+

    Weeds, Season Two:
    The whimsical satire of middle class life takes a back seat to family drama in the second season, but it never gets so intense that it's off-putting. The season cliffhanger does a great job of tying all the threads of the season together in an over-the-top but enjoyable way. This season was the weakest of the three for me, but it was still worth watching.

    Final Grade: B

    Charlie Bartlett:
    An offbeat teen movie, in which a rich smooth-talking kid tries to assimilate to public school and becomes popular by psychoanalyzing his classmates and prescribing mood-correcting drugs, which he gets from his shrinks by faking various conditions. Robert Downey Jr. is amazing as always, and the movie is a light, enjoyable viewing.

    Final Grade: B+

    US Troops in Iraq get beer for the Super Bowl
    Wee dog nearly killed by Wii Remote
    Fat ninja fails at ATM thefts

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 3 comments
    day in history

    Friday, January 16, 2009

    Friday Frazzle

    I had planned to write a Friday Fragments column when I got home from work today. However, since I'm coming off a fifty hour work week of installing alien detection software on secret government computers, and the battery of my car has died (in the parking lot of Popeyes no less), I've decided to skip it and just enjoy an afternoon off instead. But since a Friday without Fragments is like a Cuba without Castro, you can tide yourselves over with this movie of Ella and Booty (5MB WMV).

    The URI! Zone: Because freedom means not having to update your webpage on a Friday when it's cold enough to chap your perineum.

    Man dreams of creating UFO
    Nine-year-old carries friend to safety
    Outrage in Chile at busty Virgin Mary models

    permalink | 4 comments
    day in history

    Monday, January 19, 2009

    List Day: Labelled Years

    As I get further and further from the protective womb of primary education, I'm finding that it's becoming harder and harder to keep track of what went on every year. If my life were a sitcom, I'd assign a Friends-like title to each year for easy reference and memory -- an overzealous attempt to compress all of my amazing adventures into a pithy, memorable statement.

    • 1996: The Year I Graduated from High School
    • 1997: The Year I Moved in with Beavis
    • 1998: The Year I Wrote Olio
    • 1999: The Year I Had a Makeover
    • 2000: The Year I Lived With Chicks
    • 2001: The Year I Had a Recital
    • 2002: The Year I Lived in Florida
    • 2003: The Year I Taught Sightsinging
    • 2004: The Year I Bought a House
    • 2005: The Year Anna Got Married
    • 2006: The Year Nothing Much Happened
    • 2007: The Year I Met Rebecca
    • 2008: The Year I Went to Europe
    • 2009: The Year I Got Married
    • 2010: The Year I Won the Lottery
    • 2011: The Year I Won the Super Bowl
    • 2012: The Year I Won the Race for President

    How is your life organized?

    Father fails at being his son
    Seven-year-old boy has never eaten a meal
    Pyschiatrist knits a wooly brain

    tagged as lists | permalink | 7 comments
    day in history

    Tuesday, January 20, 2009

    Museday Tuesday

    1. The composition can be for any instrumentation. It can have an actual score or be a pure synthesized realization that might not be possible to perform in the real world.
    2. It must not be longer than thirty seconds.
    3. It does not necessarily have to have a start, middle, and end -- it can just be a fragment of something grander.
    4. It should be composed in thirty minutes or less. If time runs out, I post whatever I managed to finish, be it good, indifferent, or makeup on a corpse.
    5. The title of the piece must be a word from a random word generator, although this word doesn't necessarily have to be incorporated in the piece.

    Portentous: (adj.) Ominously significant or indicative

    My Composition (0:30 MP3)

    This excerpt is written for a smattering of woodwinds and plucky things. The word "ominous" stood out in the definition, and also evoked the word "undercurrent" in my brain. Unfortunately, I ran out of time before I could effectively work with the build at the end, but I envision it rolling directly into an explicit brass crescendo.

    Dog held for ransom at neighbourhood park
    Teen charged in taco assault
    Shoplifter runs over herself twice while fleeing

    tagged as museday | permalink | 2 comments
    day in history

    Wednesday, January 21, 2009

    LOST Recap Day

    this post contains spoilers from last season's LOST finale

    The fifth season of LOST begins tonight at 8, and it's hard to believe that almost eight months have passed since the last one ended. If you find yourself blurry on the details of the fourth season, you should start with my old LOLLOST feature, before catching up on the final two-hour episode below.

    As a tribute to Charlie Pace, Jin and Michael blow up all the remaining heroin on the island.

    Sayid shows off other fighting techniques learned in the Republican Guard, such as the Gopher Surprise.

    The writers take advantage of the skewed timeline on the island to account for Walt's major bout with puberty.

    Claire's baby bears a striking resemblance to Kuato from Total Recall, but more importantly, boobies.

    The newly-discovered orientation video suggests that the station was used to study the effects of humans showering with animals.

    After finally getting off the island, Hurley realizes he's been holding it in for a very long time.

    Sawyer is attacked by the island's resident Dharma shark, although a cut in the special effects budget leads to some really bad Photoshopping and no view of the shark.

    Sun uses her settlement money to travel to London, where she gets the autograph of the star of Spamalot.

    Sawyer comes to the unpleasant realization that even pretty people need to shower sometimes.

    Benjamin Linus is trapped for eternity on LOST: The Ride, after his lapbar fails to return to the neutral position.

    In a flashback, we revisit Jack's childhood to learn even more about his tattoos.

    We learn that the entire story is just a figment in the imagination of John Locke, and everyone's existence ends when he dies in a tragic sweat lodge accident.

    Thanks to Lost Media for the screen captures used in this post.

    France looks into magic cheese scam
    Presidential Loser Gallery grows by one
    Cow knocks over biker and steps on her legs

    tagged as mock mock, media, favourites | permalink | 4 comments
    day in history

    Thursday, January 22, 2009

    Review Day

    there are no spoilers in these reviews

    How I Met Your Mother, Season One:
    This is one of Rebecca's favourite shows, and we started watching it over Christmas after finding it bundled very inexpensively at Costco. I see it as something of a Friends for the 2000s -- young, hip professionals in New York involved in zany hijacks and ensuing hilarity. There's a broad mix of humour for every viewer, and missing one episode won't ever get you lost on the plot. Overall, a good "don't-have-to-think-too-hard" funny show.

    Final Grade: B+

    Weeds, Season Three:
    The third season of Weeds was better than the second, but not quite as good as the first. The plot is a little more dangerous without being intense in a Prison-Break way, which makes the show continue to work on the funny side. One particular highlight involves Kevin Nealon wandering around a church making up songs about the people he seems on his guitar. The season ended in a interesting, majorly-disruptive way, so I'm not sure how good it will be in the fourth season.

    Final Grade: B+

    Burn After Reading:
    This Coen Brothers movie felt like a fast-paced Fargo, and the number of characters and intersecting storylines was never a barrier to understanding the plot. It's what you would expect if you enjoy their movies, and is over in just ninety minutes, which is the perfect length for this story. John Malkovich costars in his typecast "Malkovich is already a little crazy but gets even crazier" role.

    Final Grade: B

    Rayman Raving Rabbids:
    Anna got me this game for Christmas. Like Wario Ware, it's a collection of zany mini-games, but it's more thematically cohesive than that game. Rabbids are a set of crazy rabbits with plungers (as seen on the cover), and the mini-games include tasks like shot putting a cow, slamming the doors of an outhouse, or shooting rabbids with plungers like the Wild West rail shooters from the arcades of the 90's. The game is hilarious, although the graphics are old enough to appear with distracting artifacts on my newer model TV.

    Final Grade: A-

    Lost, Season Five Premiere:
    I can't yet decide if the premiere was a stew of genius or just a big mess -- I'll have to watch it again. There were plenty of familiar faces and scenes, which made the show interesting in a Back to the Future II kind of way, but there were also too many skips in time, and even more new actors to deal with (though one was fortunately dealt with in a red-shirt kind of way). I totally called the identity of the cloaked woman at the end though.

    Final Grade: B

    Vomiting birds save icebox pair
    Indian artist finds exhibition of his work full of fakes
    Planet Nollywood

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 2 comments
    day in history

    Friday, January 23, 2009

    Friday Fragments

    the underpants of the Internet

    ♠ A song that I'm currently addicted to is Sweet About Me by Gabriella Cilmi, yet another artist from the "my-voice-is-way-too-mature-for-the-fact-that-I'm-only-sixteen" ranks (like Joss Stone). I first heard it on XM Radio, and have been repeating it regularly ever since I downloaded it.

    ♠ Even though it currently stinks, I've decided that I'll renew my XM subscription for another year, because CDs get old and I can't imagine actually learning how to use the old-fashioned radio to find songs. This is more important now that my CD player sounds a little staticky, following the electrical problems I had last week.

    ♠ It turns out that my battery had become completely drained last week (damned car vampires) which meant that it couldn't even be jumpstarted successfully. Now that the new battery is installed, the car starts incredibly fast -- to the point where sometimes it revs up as my key is moving towards the ignition. I'm now out the cost of labor and towing, but maybe I can win it back at poker.

    ♠ This weekend marks the first game in the 2009 URI! Poker Tour, although kitchen size necessitates a smaller pool of players. Generally, we play Basement Poker where ten people can comfortably play together (nine if someone has EXCEPTIONALLY BIG... blinds), but in the cold winter months we move upstairs for Kitchen Poker. Maybe this summer we'll brave the mosquitoes on the back porch for some Itchin' Poker (and when we start our world tour -- Chichen Itza Poker).

    ♠ When I was a yuppy child who owned every single Choose Your Own Adventure book, Chichen Itza featured prominently in book 11: Mystery of the Maya, though I pronounced it as "Chickenitsa" which might also be a pasta dish. This book was only memorable for two reasons: it had really horrible illustrations (almost as bad as the ones in From the Mixed of Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, where the title character's head looks like the cross between a Cabbage Patch Kid and a cirrus cloud), and the illustrations suggested that YOU, the reader, might be a chick. As if chicks could read back then.

    ♠ Speaking of chicks, our wedding date has been set for October 3, 2009. The wedding colours will be puke puce and parchment yellow, and the ceremony will be officiated by Ella.

    ♠ Have a great weekend!

    Man misses bus after dancing with young women
    Gym replaces dumbbells with human weights
    Galileo the test case for requiring vision tests of the elderly

    tagged as fragments | permalink | 5 comments
    day in history

    Monday, January 26, 2009

    List Day: Four Children's Books You've Never Read

    An instructional text for young readers, reminding them that everyone occasionally gets constipated -- it's perfectly natural and nothing to be ashamed of. Light-hearted pictures illustrate the various ways to combat a backed up drainpipe, from bran muffins to enemas.

    Gently normalizes the lifestyle of a single mother and her daughter as they flee from state to state, avoiding unsympathetic judges, and the custody rights of a deadbeat father.

    Teaches children how to track down their fathers after a long absence, while steering clear of con artists who look nothing like the real thing.

    This picture book describes one child's farewall to our sun as it transitions to a red dwarf star and eventually goes out, abandoning the Earth to eternal darkness and chaos.

    The Frigid Fingers Were Live, but the Music Wasn?t
    Microsoft Ad and Product Advertised Could Both Conceivably Make You Want to Kill Your Family
    Awful Product With Awful Ad Makes Awful Music

    tagged as lists, media | permalink | 3 comments
    day in history

    Tuesday, January 27, 2009

    Newsday Tuesday

    Many Americans Much Happier Now

    Key groups of people in the United States have grown happier over the past few decades, while other have become less so. The result: Happiness inequality has decreased since the 1970s, a new study finds.

    In other important research, some people have been taking longer showers in the morning, while others have taken shorter showers. The result: the net amount of water used in the shower has stayed about the same.

    Previous research has found that happiness is partly inherited, and that it can be highly contagious. So what's the state of glee in these United States? Depends on who and how you ask. One recent study found, for example, that Baby Boomers are not as happy today as other generations in other eras.

    In a separate study, Baby Boomers were interviewed to determine the reasons behind their sadness. Overwhelmingly, the answer turned out to be the moniker of "Baby Boomers", with many folks suggesting alternate names like Heavy Boinkers, or The Bunny Generation. Said one Boomer, "It sounds like we fill up bass drums with babies for extra resonance." A spokesperson for Black Sabbath could not be reached for comment.

    Globally, happiness is on the rise, according to a study last year. Denmark is the happiest nation and Zimbabwe is the most glum. The United States ranked 16th.

    The United States has actually gotten happier since the 2006 study, when it didn't even make the top 20. Burundi, the former title-holder for world's glummest nation, rose a few points, most likely because they don't have a President Mugabe to deal with.

    The U.S. happiness gap between whites and non-whites has narrowed by two-thirds, the new study found. Non-whites report being significantly happier than they were in the early 1970s, while whites are slightly less happy. The happiness gap between men and women closed as well. Women have become less happy, while men are a little more cheerful.

    Feminist groups have launched a new ad campaign portraying men as "thieves of the happy" -- since this study implies that only a finite amount of happiness exists in the world, they've determined that it's only fair that women get their due.

    Stevenson and Wolfers used data collected from 1972 to 2006 through the University of Chicago's General Social Survey. Each year, participants were asked, "Taken all together, how would you say things are these days - would you say that you are very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy?"

    Dissenters to the study note that the options seem overly cheerful and skewed towards happy results. Researchers defended their survey, providing several raw questionnaires where space at the bottom was filled with write-in answers, dark emo poetry, and "HATE LIFE" written in thick black magic marker.

    The authors say that it's hard to pin down what exactly is causing the narrowing happiness gap. But they suggest that money probably is not the answer. In fact one recent study found that giving money away generates happiness.

    The researchers obviously did not think to check with their sponsors, who were livid and nowhere near happy when they discovered that they'd given money away to such a useless research project. Plans are already underway to request additional funds next year, to show that researcher happiness increases as financier happiness diminishes.

    Robbery suspect turned into a goat
    Nazi angel of death Josef Mengele 'created twin town in Brazil'
    14-year-old is cop for a day

    tagged as newsday | permalink | 0 comments
    day in history

    Wednesday, January 28, 2009

    Five Years Day

    Fifteen Years Ago Today... I was snowed in at home as a tenth grader. Unfortunately, it was a Student Evaluation Day which meant that we already had the day off, which is like winning the lottery after you die. I spent the day playing computer games and shoveling snow.

    Ten Years Ago Today... I was living with Nathan, the dirtiest roommate I've ever had, in East AJ and taking Operating Systems, Polifrone's Contemporary Music Literature class, and "Probability and Statistics for Monkeys But Renamed As 'for Engineers' So They Feel Good About Themselves".

    The night before, I had gone to Rosie and Jen's apartment for Taco Night with Shac, who continuously mooched off of my car for all three years that I had one at school. After tacos, it was time for a brand new episode of DAWSON'S CREEK!!, during which Shac and I made fun of the show until we got kicked out of the apartment.

    Five Years Ago Today... I was snowed in and working from home in the Elms at Centreville. I couldn't even back my car out of its parking spot, and spent the afternoon applying for home mortgage loans and talking with my realtor, so I could buy this fine piece of real estate I currently own, whose assessment has dropped another hundred thousand dollars this year.

    Today... I am snowed in and working from home. There's a half-inch of ice coating everything in the neighbourhood and a cat sleeping next to a space heater.

    New LOST on at 9 PM tonight!

    Would you eat a sea kitten?
    Leaping needlefish impales man's nasal cavity
    Mexicans turn to voodoo against US team

    tagged as memories | permalink | 6 comments
    day in history

    Thursday, January 29, 2009

    Review Day: Wrath of the Lich King

    Wrath of the Lich King (WotLK), the second expansion pack to World of Warcraft, was released last November, just under two years after the first pack, The Burning Crusade. It increases the maximum level from 70 to 80, adds a new playable class and a continent full of fresh quests and exploration. I picked up the game a week before Thanksgiving and have been experiencing it at a leisurely pace, not unlike Kathy's trek to her dissertation. I decided to hold off on my review until I had completed every single quest I possibly could (except for those taking place in dungeons that require more than one person).

    WotLK introduces the continent of Northrend, a snowy vista with Norse tendencies that makes exploration a joy again -- I had as much fun exploring as I did when I first bought the game in 2004. The continent gradually increases in scope and majesty as you travel, until you reach mountains that are taller than some entire zones from the old world. Having a swift flying mount is very helpful (and you'll loot enough gold in Northrend to pay for it if you don't already own one).

    The quests you perform are varied and numerous, and you'll reach level 80 long before you run out of quests. Though most of the quests follow the same basic mold (kill 10 penguins, find the magic doohickey and give it to someone), they don't feel as tiresome because of the introduction of "vehicles". You spend many of the quests on the back of a dragon or in a gnome-invented helicopter, and each of these vehicles has its own unique skillset to learn -- it sometimes feels more like you're playing a round of Mario Party mini-games instead of questing.

    Death Knights
    The new playable class is the Death Knight -- billed as a hero class, it is easily stronger than a comparable normal class at the same level. Though I didn't play the Death Knight very far beyond the starting zone, I found them to be mostly boring and overpowered (they're especially annoying in PvP Battlegrounds where they have an immediate advantage over all the other characters).

    For People Who Don't Play Video Games
    Poker poker poker poker. Wedding wedding wedding. Poker wedding wedding? Boobies boobies boobies! LOST poker wedding boobies Booty lost.

    Graphics and Sound
    The graphics are surprisingly nice for a game that's now four years old -- the graphics engine has been tweaked and the system requirements are now a little higher. If your computer barely ran the original game, you'll definitely need to upgrade a bit before visiting the busier areas of the expansion pack.

    The music is very well-done -- before I would always turn off the music immediately, but the style of music in Northrend is understated and pleasant to listen to. It's also a little more adventuresome than you'd expect from a computer game, with some sections sounding like excerpts from a contemporary piano recital.

    Bottom Line:
    This expansion pack is much more polished and enjoyable than the previous one, which occasionally felt like a hodge podge of unrelated new content. There is nothing in here that will make it worth buying if you dislike the core gaming concepts behind the game, but if you already enjoy the game, you'll enjoy this as well.

    Final Grade: A

    It's the economy, girlfriend
    Cello scrotum exposed as a hoax
    Michigan man watches too much Prison Break

    tagged as reviews, games | permalink | 1 comment
    day in history

    Friday, January 30, 2009

    End of the Month Media Day


    Thanksgiving with the Family
    December Festivities
    January Festivities
    Ella 2008


    Ella does Paddy Cake (2MB WMV)
    Ella does Paddy Cake (low quality 1MB MPG)
    Ella does the Duck Song (5MB WMV)
    Ella does the Duck Song (low quality 2MB MPG)

    Happy end of January! Only 11 months until Christmas!

    Cloned pets: Looks can be deceiving
    Businessman hit by car; passers-by steal cash
    Fire station burns after cooking mishap

    tagged as media | permalink | 3 comments
    day in history


    You are currently viewing a monthly archive, so the posts are in chronological order with the oldest at the top. On the front page, the newest post is at the top. The entire URI! Zone is © 1996 - 2024 by Brian Uri!. Please see the About page for further information.

    Jump to Top
    Jump to the Front Page

    January 2009
    Old News Years J F M A M J
    J A S O N D
    J F M A M J
    J A S O N D
    J F M A M J
    J A S O N D
    J F M A M J
    J A S O N D
    J F M A M J
    J A S O N D
    J F M A M J
    J A S O N D
    J F M A M J
    J A S O N D
    J F M A M J
    J A S O N D
    J F M A M J
    J A S O N D
    J F M A M J
    J A S O N D
    J F M A M J
    J A S O N D
    J F M A M J
    J A S O N D
    J F M A M J
    J A S O N D
    J F M A M J
    J A S O N D
    J F M A M J
    J A S O N D
    J F M A M J
    J A S O N D
    J F M A M J
    J A S O N D
    J F M A M J
    J A S O N D
    J F M A M J
    J A S O N D
    J F M A M J
    J A S O N D
    J F M A M J
    J A S O N D
    J F M A M J
    J A S O N D
    J F M A M J
    J A S O N D
    J F M A M J
    J A S O N D
    visitors since November 2003