07/2015

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Memory Day: Fourteen Years Ago

An excerpt from a journal entry about my summer internship from July 2001:

Work has been hit-or-miss. I'm working with a newly hired Java guru who always knows the best way to do something, if not the most direct way to do something, which occasionally results in more work for me. It's a worthwhile experience though because I'll learn a lot from him.

This was back when "Enterprise" Java was a really big deal and no one had yet questioned how ridiculously you could stretch code in the name of being enterprise-y. I remember having written a straightforward piece of code that read input from a custom data file. By the time the Java guru had finished explaining the way things should be done, everything was wrapped in an Interface, and code to read the file was replaced by a swappable Adapter (built in a Factory) just in case the data file was going to be in XML or some other format in the future (ignoring the fact that we had created the data file ourselves, and had no intention of doing so).

Part of his didactic approach included a ten minute lecture on coffee filters.

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Thursday, July 02, 2015

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Modern Family, Season Three:
We got incredibly tired of the character, Cam, less than halfway through this season, which dulled some of our enthusiasm for watching. He's good enough in a supporting role, but becomes grating when major plotlines revolve around his whining nature. Otherwise, the season was light, funny entertainment.

Final Grade: B-

Luther, Season One:
This BBC show featuring Idris Elba takes your standard cop show format and adds a sociopathic serial killer that the main character may have more in common with than he wants to believe. Nothing here is groundbreaking, but the performances are all great and the action builds steadily in intensity to the season finale. The female serial killer puts in a great performance as well, even though her lips look distractingly like a mushroom growing on a log in the woods. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B+

Nightcrawler (R):
Jake Gyllenhaal is at his creepy best as a guy on the fringe of society who starts filming accidents and crimes to sell to the local news station. His escalating attempts to get bloodier footage mirrors any given local newscast you might have watched in the last ten years. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B+

Drones by MUSE:
This new album by MUSE is much better than their last, and approaches the quality of their classics. The lyrical and thematic content (government conspiracies and disillusionment) is tired and forgettable, but I don't listen to the lyrics anyhow. The obligatory "mini-symphony" works much better this time around, and stands alone as a song I would listen to more than once for novelty's sake, although the closing a capella choir track is unnecessary. There's a good ratio of great beats to B-sides on this album, and thankfully, the singing bassist has been relegated back to the bass section and never gets his own song.

Final Grade: B+

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Friday, July 03, 2015

Almost Independence Day

Enjoy this 4th of July interview from 1991, when I was 11 years old.

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Monday, July 06, 2015

Weekend Wrap-up

On Friday, I cleaned the house and released a new version of DDMSence. In the evening, we grilled some salmon between thunderstorms and finished the first season of Rectify.

For the 4th itself, Rebecca went on her final training hike on the AT, dodging storms until the final half hour. In the evening, we picked up a couple of growlers from Crooked Run and went to Rebecca's parents' house for pork chops and the yuppy fireworks of Lake Barcroft. Fog and smoke hovered over the lake like a sullen toddler, obscuring at least 60% of the fireworks.

The display itself was nice, but suffered from Lord of the Rings syndrome, with at least twelve different brigades that could have been mistaken for the ending. Rather than last 45 minutes with a spurt every four minutes, it would have been more finale-like had they set off everything within 15 minutes -- longer is not always better.

On Sunday, I watched Interstellar and lounged around, doing absolutely nothing useful. We had an early dinner at The V, and the place was so empty that we probably should have tried to hit Ford's Fish Shack while everyone was at the beach.

How was your holiday weekend?

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Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Quiz Day: Me Me Me!, Part VI

Part I | II | III | IV | V

How much you know about me? Hover your mouse over the right column to see the correct answers.

1 What is my favourite kitchen appliance?
  1. Microwave
  2. Toaster Oven
  3. Rice Cooker
  4. Wok
B
2 Where did I buy most of my computer games in high school?
  1. Electronics Boutique
  2. Babbages
  3. Software Etc
  4. Waldensoftware
A
3 Which class did I NOT take at NOVA?
  1. Communications
  2. European History
  3. Geology
  4. Statistics for Engineers
D
4 Which ensemble did I participate in at least once during my undergraduate years?
  1. Wind Ensemble
  2. Jazz Band
  3. Brass Trio
  4. Trumpet Choir
D
5 What kind of movie did I watch the most in the aughts (2000 - 2009)?
  1. Biopics
  2. Science fiction movies
  3. Heist movies
  4. Rachel McAdams movies
C
6 What's the longest I've owned any new camera without dropping it on a hard surface?
  1. 3 hours
  2. 3 days
  3. 3 weeks
  4. 3 months
B
7 In which sport have I received a major injury (broken bones or requires stitches)?
  1. Badminton
  2. Volleyball
  3. Soccer
  4. No sport
D
8 When was the last time I got a speeding ticket?
  1. 2013
  2. 2009
  3. 2001
  4. 1997
B
9 What was Amber's given name when she was adopted?
  1. Cali
  2. Ginger
  3. Tiggy
  4. Kitty
A
10 What video game trope do I hate the least?
  1. Lava worlds
  2. Unskippable cutscenes
  3. Poorly translated stories
  4. Long load times
C

tagged as random | permalink | 4 comments

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken 5 years ago in July 2010 at Sterling Vineyards in Napa Valley.

After a stop in Spokane for a wedding, we ended up in and around San Francisco for several days before heading down to Santa Cruz. Naturally, we ended up at a Napa winery with the same name as our town, so we could score some swag with "Sterling" written on it. I usually end up clumsily smashing most glasses while washing them in our quarry-depth sink, but both Sterling glasses have survived to date.

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Thursday, July 09, 2015

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Before Sunrise (R):
We tried out the first in this relationship trilogy by Richard Linklater after enjoying Boyhood. It was an interesting experiment but your enjoyment will be directly proportional to how in the mood you are to watch two characters walking slowly across a city having deep, meaningful conversations. Obviously, we were not in the right mood as we turned it off after about 30 minutes.

Final Grade: Not Graded

Catastrophe, Season One:
This is a fun, brief relationship comedy about an American who knocks up an Irish woman while on a business trip. The characters feel organic and the dialogue is frank and humourous, like one character's description of birth as "seeing a little troll come tobogganing out of your wife's snatch on a wave of turds". A scene in the final episode feels a bit misplayed in terms of how quickly tensions escalate, but overall it was a fun way to spend a few evenings. The female lead, Sharon Horgan, reminded me of an Irish Sarah Chalke. Free on Amazon Prime.

Final Grade: B+

Secrets of People With Extraordinary Willpower by Katie Morton:
Katie Morton was the former creator of the Dating is Hell blog long, long ago, and was last seen here on the URI! Zone after winning a 2009 caption contest. Rebecca and I donated to the crowdfunding of her first novel and received our personalized copies a few weeks back. This book is actually a self-help book written in the form of a novel. The format is successful in sustaining interest and keeping the plot moving, although sometimes the self-help sections feel like monologues (see also, Victor Hugo and the 300 pages of Les Miserables about sewer construction). I am definitely not the target audience for this book, so take my grade with grain of salt, but Rebecca said she enjoyed it. Congratulations to Katie for completing such a daunting undertaking!

Final Grade: B- if you have male genitalia, potentially higher otherwise

Last of Our Kind by The Darkness:
The newest album from The Darkness hits all of the right notes -- they return to their bombastic rock roots without evolving too far out of what their listeners want. A high percentage of tracks on this album are infectiously catchy and come off sounding frantically like the most important rock song you'll hear before the end of the world. In particular, I greatly enjoyed Mighty Wings. I can picture the lead singer singing "Open up your might wings and fly!" to the heavens surrounded by smoke machines, as the soundtrack to what would simultaneously be the worst and the most awesome Maxi Pad commercial of all time.

Final Grade: A

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Friday, July 10, 2015

Stuff In My Drawers Day

I wrote this essay 29 years ago during the middle of my first grade year (Language Arts with Mrs. Uhler). The paper quality in the 80s was about as poor as the giant pencils, so I've greatly adjusted the contrast.

Like all smart doctors, I knew that a private practice in an anonymous commercial park was preferable to the chaos of working in an actual hospital. I also knew that if a malady was beyond my skill, it was better to punt to someone else, rather than take the hit to my practice's mortality rate.

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

6:32 AM: Showered and ready for the world.
7:00 AM: Sydney watches the bagel I'm eating.
7:07 AM: Prepping the rarely-used netbook for travel.
9:08 AM: Doing some work while Amber micromanages.
11:32 AM: Sphinxing is the new planking.
11:59 AM: Packing some bags for traveling light.
1:18 PM: Lunchtime for cats.
3:41 PM: Rewatching Orphan Black on the treadmill.
4:30 PM: Learning some German.
5:36 PM: Grilling meats.
5:50 PM: Dinnertime for humans.
6:58 PM: Playing Portal Stories: Mel.
8:02 PM: Bonus Picture: Creeper who idled in front of my house for at least 7 minutes while glancing up at it repeatedly, who only left after another neighbour walked by. He picked up another guy on the corner before driving away. I've got my eye on you, POMINA.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Decade Flashback Day

Ten years ago, in July 2005...

  • I was living here in the same house in Sterling. Kathy was living in my basement for the summer, although she was away on a two-week road trip for the first half of the month.

  • I create a page called "100 Things About Me", as was common in the fading days of Web 1.0. This eventually grew to "222 Things About Me" until I took it down in 2009 after too many recruiters were finding it instead of my resume.

  • I had reconnected with Kim from high school and was seeing really bad movies like Fantastic Four with her in the waning days of Springfield Mall.

  • I experimented with a feature that would eventually become Newsday Tuesday by talking about day laborers in Herndon and their STDs.

  • One of my old web hosts, Futurepoint, outsourced tech support to India, which marked the beginning of a long, frustrating decline. (I moved to Kattare in 2008).

  • Blizzard renamed one of the collectible cat pets in World of Warcraft from Maine Coon to Black Tabby (because Black is less racist?). "This non-combat pet name was changed as there were a number of concerns expressed by players that had never heard of this particular breed of cat. To them it seemed offensive, which was never our intent upon introducing this pet. I'm sorry if you're the owner of such a pet and your desire to love it has lessened since patch version 1.6."

  • Harry Potter Book 6 came out, and I read it in a day and a half.

  • My dad and I built sidewalks around the house. Amber is in the basement in the photo because at this time, the cats were allowed free range and reign (pre Pee-gate).

  • I wrote my first Friday Fragments column, which ultimately lasted until 2012.

  • Paige resurfaced on my blog from Houston (pre-Spain) and spent several days consuming every single update since 2003.

  • I spent $46.16 at Michael's for frames to hang some posters I'd just purchased from AllPosters.com -- 3 black and white images of jazz icons, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Dizzy Gillespie. They neglected to scan the 3rd frame, so I saved about 40 dollars.

  • My digital music purchasing routine involved buying songs as Windows Media files from Walmart Music and then rerecording them as DRM-free MP3s with Adobe Audition.

What were you doing ten years ago in July?

tagged as memories | permalink | 2 comments

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken 3 years ago today, on July 15, 2012.

We had paid $20 each to go to the Montreal Contemporary Art Museum, only to find an endless series of "Someone really bought this?" exhibits, like a short film about a wolf standing by a fence, coupled with explanatory placards dense with language you'd find in a pretentious book review.

Here, Rebecca is standing next to a holey monkey pissing off a log. Now that you've seen it, you can skip this museum.

tagged as memories | permalink | 6 comments

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Prime Day:
Amazon's big 20th Anniversary sale was a huge bust. Deals were split across confusingly named categories with the same poor site navigation that prevents me from ever discovering interesting Kindle books to buy. It was difficult to see deals that were coming more than a couple hours in advance unless you camped on the site all day long, and the deals that were there were all one-offs to things that would have actually been worthwhile: An iPhone! (case) A tablet! (stand) A giant bottle of WHEY! I was prepared to spend tons of unnecessary cash on fun things I probably would never have needed or purchased in a fiscally responsible WHEY! but I walked away completely empty-handed. It was like going to a college job fair solely for the free snacks, and then finding out that you're getting Hydrox and Lipton Diet Green Tea. What a failure.

Final Grade: F

Rectify, Season One:
This drama from the Sundance Channel (which I didn't even know was a real channel) appeared with little fanfare on Netflix, and tells the story of a convicted murderer who's freed on DNA evidence after 20 years spent in prison. The pacing is slow but methodical, yet it kept my interest much more than Bloodline did. I also appreciated the relative murkiness surrounding the original crime, which gives you the space to come to your own conclusions about the characters and circumstances -- had this show aired on Fox, it'd probably be filled to the brim with unnecessary flashbacks to the ancient violence. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B+

Surrogates (PG-13):
One of my jobs while Rebecca hikes everywhere has been to watch all of the movies she probably wouldn't care about missing. Bruce Willis stars in this movie about a future where everyone lives their daily lives through robot avatars, "surries", and have forgotten how to interact with real life. It's brief, entertaining, and raises some interesting questions to muse upon in the shower.

Final Grade: B+

Interstellar (PG-13):
I liked this movie far more than I expected I would, and even watched it again with Rebecca who gave it two thumbs up. The internal consistency of the plot is impeccable, with every scene from the beginning lending weight to the resolution, although I did feel like the denouement felt a little silly and too full of exposition when compared to how effectively the rest of the movie was paced and crafted. The movie is almost 3 hours long but didn't necessarily feel long -- although they could have trimmed about 20 minutes of Anne Hathaway sitting in a spaceship reacting to gravity by grunting and leaning to the right.

Final Grade: A-

Prisoners (R):
This was a great movie, in spite of the fact that Jake Gyllenhaal looks like he's channeling George Washington (or Inspector Javert) on the cover. However, it's unrelentingly grim, starting from an unsettling place and building in intensity and creepiness without pause. The plot focuses in the disappearance of two little girls, and the mentally handicapped adult that may have been involved. Clues are intricately worked into the plot, and the ending is satisfying and consistent without relying on any M. Night caliber plot twists. I was able to figure out a few pieces of the puzzle early on, but this did not diminish my enjoyment of the ending when all of the loose ends finally came together.

Final Grade: A

tagged as reviews | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, July 17, 2015

Hiatus Day

I'll be taking my traditional end-of-July break in blogging for the next two weeks. Updates will be on a "when I feel like it" basis until Monday, August 3, which marks the start of the TWENTIETH EDITION of the URI! Zone.

The end of July has generally been the time I improve the website with critical features like autoplaying MIDI files and animated llama GIFs. Here is a snapshot of the creative process, taken in July 1997, showing all of the elements that go into maintaining my mediocre modicum of website magic.

  • A: High school era science fair ribbons, constantly reminding me of previous successes.

  • B: Giant glasses which allow me to see more without moving my head.

  • C: Netscape Navigator 3.04 Gold running at 1024x768 for rendering state of the art backgrounds that make it impossible to actually read any text.

  • D: A Gateway Pentium computer with 3.5", 5.25", CD-R, and tape drive for transferring files on several media. One might even call it MULTImedia.

  • E: A drafting ruler for converting inch measurements into pixels in Paint Shop Pro.

  • F: An HP Laserjet 4 for printing out hardcopies of the website for when the Internet is down.

  • G: A full-sized flatbed scanner capable of holding a high school yearbook in its maw like a hungry, hungry hippo.

  • H: A ZIP drive for holding up to ONE HUNDRED MEGABYTES of files.

  • I: Video games for downtimes (since I ran things like a startup and took breaks every hour for team building purposes), including Diablo 1 and The Pandora Directive: A Tex Murphy Adventure.

If there are any new features you'd like to see in the upcoming new edition, or types of posts you'd enjoy reading, share them in the comments section!

tagged as website, media | permalink | 10 comments

Friday, July 24, 2015

Munich Day

At a rooftop bar in the hipster district of southern Munich.

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Grindelwald Day

Just arrived in Grindelwald, Switzerland.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Jungfraujoch Day

Enjoying the valley below Mount Eiger and Mount Jungfrau (taken by Rebecca, who is now a superhuman hiker and went higher than I did).

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Kleine Scheidegg Day

Running with the cows (we were caught in the stampede when the dogs came out to round them up for dinner).

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

First Day

The Shreckhorn appears out of the clouds like a fevered opium dream as we hike from First to Falhorn.

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Friday, July 31, 2015

Montreux Day

Traditional rosti and cruet for dinner in Montreux, which consists of either hash browns or toast, slathered in melted cheese and eggs.

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