07/2016

Friday, July 01, 2016

Learn2Swim Day

Anna's kids are at different stages of the "Five Stages of Wanting to Jump Off the Diving Board".

Meanwhile, Rosie is rocketing off the end of the diving board repeatedly like a North Korean missile test, and Isaac is strapped into a stroller so he doesn't eat mud.

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Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Weekend Wrap-up

Rebecca and friends make workout clothing by cutting up other clothing at a "Shirt Party" on Saturday night.

10 mile hike at Signal Knob, near Front Royal, on Sunday morning.

Burning a matchstick village in Taylorstown on the Fourth.

Assorted birds of the weekend.

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Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken in the summer of 1983.

While other kids were playing with their Slip'n'Slides and Super Soakers, we got to run in the sprinkler while Dad watered the grass, using nothing but washed out margarine containers and dollar store water guns that leaked everywhere. We also had to dodge prickly sticks and walnuts in the grass, both of which hurt more to step on than Legos.

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Thursday, July 07, 2016

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Killing Them Softly (R):
This crime thriller, featuring plenty of familiar faces from other mob movies and shows, starts out with a high level of intensity, but after an initial card game heist, it starts meandering into the dangerous realm of "good moviemaking". Long stretches of irrelevant dialogue allow the characters to breathe, but kill all forward momentum. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: C

Now Is Not Forever by B. Reith:
This CD of completely inoffensive hip-hop and pop songs is catchy and clever but not earth-shattering. Old School is a good representative track.

Final Grade: B

Shutter Island (R):
This psychological thriller starts out so ham-handedly abrupt, with ridiculous horror movie music and obligatory character introductions, that it almost seems like a setup for a parody of the genre. The potentially intriguing clues gradually built my interest up for the first half hour, but something about the pacing is just off -- eventually, I was just watching it because I knew there was going to be a twist and I wanted to see what the twist was. The twist was not worth the wait.

Final Grade: C-

Yamaha R-S201:
I purchased this inexpensive receiver to replace one from my youth that stopped working. It's about as minimal a device as you can find, and its lack of optical ports (white/red only) don't really matter to me since I only listen to my CDs a few times per month anymore.

Final Grade: B

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Friday, July 08, 2016

List Day: 10 Things On the Horizon I'm Unimpressed By

  1. Amazon Prime Day

  2. Summer Olympics in Brazil

  3. Dishonored 2

  4. 2016 Election coverage

  5. Complete transition to chip-based credit cards

  6. Indiana Jones 5

  7. Learning more About Jupiter

  8. Despicable Me 3

  9. Drone-based product delivery

  10. More trendy restaurants that have to explain how they work on your first visit

tagged as lists | permalink | 1 comment

Monday, July 11, 2016

Weekend Wrap-up

On Friday afternoon, Rebecca's clinic had their office picnic in Olney Park, a small park nestled in the armpit between the intersections of the Toll Road, 66, and 495. Luckily, heavy thunderstorms broke the stagnant oppression before the picnic began, so it was only mildly unbearable to be outside.

On Saturday, we visited the Reston Farmer's Market (but left before the Ukelele Festival kicked off in earnest). In the evening, we went to my parents' house for dinner and the movie, Hail, Caesar!. The movie was somewhere in the upper 50% of Coen Brothers movies, most of which I haven't really enjoyed.

Sunday was an errands-around-the-house day. Rebecca learned how to back up her phone photos IN THE CLOUD, and I played Overwatch and ran on the treadmill while watching Shameless. For dinner, we went to Ford's Fish Shack, which was as empty as we'd ever seen, and got the crab cakes and pecan trout.

How was your weekend?

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

5:09 AM: Up for work.
5:30 AM: Arriving in the office.
7:00 AM: Looking up from SQL query optimization.
11:47 AM: Heading home for lunch.
12:11 PM: My lunch sandwich (handcrafted).
12:24 PM: Rebecca leaves for work.
12:45 PM: Back to work.
3:29 PM: Moving to the summer office for a conference call.
4:42 PM: Exercising with Shameless.
5:55 PM: Time for Overwatch.
7:48 PM: Grilling Asian Fusion Pork for dinner.
9:56 PM: Late dinner for Rebecca after picking her parents up at the airport.

tagged as 12 of 12 | permalink | 1 comment

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken one year ago today, in Chamonix, France.

Rebecca had just arrived here to do her crazy hike around Mont Blanc and was taking a rest day to see the sights before the hike began. Meanwhile, I was at home with Booty grilling entire steaks for myself and watching heist movies.

tagged as memories | permalink | 0 comments

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Ronin (R):
This is a well-constructed heist movie from the classic DeNiro era before anyone was meeting any parents. The actors play off each other very well, although there are a few too many car chases that blur together by the end of the movie. It definitely overuses the "person in the way of a car chase flails out of the road at the last minute" trope, but that's one of those fun things that you don't see in modern movies anymore. Besides the back-and-forth of the heist itself, the movie also doubles as a tourism video for nice cityscapes and landscapes in France. Free on Amazon Prime.

Final Grade: B-

Hail, Caesar! (PG-13):
There's an expectation set up around Coen Brothers movies -- just like I know I will hate Wes Anderson movies before they start, I know that I will find Coen Brothers movies cinematically interesting but not love them (I'm in the minority with Raising Arizona and Fargo being the only ones I really like). This movie is definitely in the top 50% of all Coen Brothers movies that I've seen, but it functions more as an extended love letter to classic film making than it does as a real movie. It's jam-packed with a distracting number of cameos, and dances along the line of reality and fantasy to the point where I almost expected it to end like Blazing Saddles. However, if the Coen Brothers are your jam, you will definitely like this one.

Final Grade: B-

Fresh Meat, Season Two:
The second season of this show about UK university freshmen really found its groove. There are no dud episodes (skip the one about Russell Brand's head in the first season) and the characters all have their own story arcs to root for.

Final Grade: B

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Friday, July 15, 2016

Happy Friday

Set sail for ADVENTURES!

tagged as cats | permalink | 1 comment

Monday, July 18, 2016

Weekend Wrap-up

We had our first big barbeque of the year on Saturday night, featuring seasoned steaks for grown-ups and hot dogs for kids (of which there were 11, or 12 if you count Evil Mike who was like a big, big kid). The thunderstorms kept us inside for most of the night, while a single, damaging lightning strike fried my router and made it an Internet-free party.

I spent Sunday morning troubleshooting and repairing our network and incorporating leftover hot dog buns into breakfast and lunch. In the evening, we tried out the tapas place in Reston Town Center (Barcelona Wine Bar), which had some high-quality food but was a little overpriced for a restaurant we might visit regularly (just slightly less than a comparable trip to Mokomandy).

How was your weekend?

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 3 comments

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Recipe Day: Seasoned Steaks

I normally prefer steaks with as little interference as possible -- a simple rare cut with a bit of salt, pepper, and if I'm feeling particularly extravagant, brown sugar. However, this more complex rub went over well at the most recent barbeque.

Statistics

  • Serves 3 - 4 people
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: up to 16 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

Steps

  • Mix all ingredients except brown sugar in a bowl. Add brown sugar last and make sure to smooth out any clumps resulting from living on the humid East Coast.
  • Lightly rub your steaks with olive oil and pat with paper towels if you overdo it. Rub the seasoning all over the steaks. This recipe makes enough seasoning for 3 - 4 steaks.
  • If you already have magic grill hands, do whatever you normally do to grill steaks. If not, this simple pattern is a good place to start and customize to your liking:
    • Warm up steaks at room temperature for 10 minutes. Heat grill to highest heat.
    • Sear each side of the steak for 1.5 minutes on highest heat (total 3 minutes). Reduce heat to medium-high.
    • Cook steaks for 5 minutes per side for rare, 6.5 minutes per side for medium rare, and 8 minutes per side for medium.
  • Let stand for about 10 minutes and serve with a Belgian ale.

tagged as recipes | permalink | 0 comments

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken six years ago, on July 13, 2010.

We were in Berkeley for a leg of a West Coast trip, and staying with Rebecca's aunt. We managed to score a spot on the schedule of popular entrepreneur, Vu, who travelled out from San Francisco to eat $89 worth of sushi with us.

tagged as memories | permalink | 0 comments

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Plans for the URI! Zone

The URI! Zone will remain online after its 20th birthday, ensuring that my future political opponents can cherry pick from an inordinate amount of inarticulate historical archives when challenging me if I ever decide to run for public office. However, I will be cutting back to 3 updates per week to more effectively reflect the overall decrease in visitors over the past 10 years.

Posts will come from 3 categories: What I'm Doing, What I Did, and What I Think.

  • What I'm Doing: Weekend Wrap-ups, End-of-the-Month synopses, 12 of 12s, and travelogues from all of the amazing places I visit, like Grindelwald, Denver, and Mellow Mushroom.
  • What I Did: Memory Day fodder, perhaps with a more chronological slant that I can ultimately bundle into a cheap paperback as shovelware, becoming yet another blogger with a book deal.
  • What I Think: Review Days, Lists, Habits, and geopolitical commentary on current events. Newsday Tuesday might return in some form.

I'll start out by posting on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, but may refine that later on through "continuous improvement with my Agile methodology". If you have any suggestions about things you'd like to read about or see here, let me know!

tagged as website | permalink | 3 comments

Friday, July 22, 2016

Stuff In My Drawers Day

Here's a cartoon I drew 24 years ago as a high school freshman. It depicts the assembly line process used to make a doofus. If you knew any doofuses growing up, they probably came from this machine.

tagged as media | permalink | 0 comments

Monday, July 25, 2016

Weekend Wrap-up

On Friday night, we braved the heat to go to Wolf Trap for a Thao Nguyen / Sufjan Stevens concert. Reflecting our status as old people with disposable income, we got pleasant box seats to avoid warring with all of the fratty youngsters that show up on the lawn five minutes before the show and try to squeeze their blankets into a two square foot area. The view from the box and ease of access was definitely worth the added cost, and I would do it again.

The opening segment by Thao was okay -- good, quirky arrangements marred by a muddy sound mixing and forgettable lead vocals. Rebecca tried to get me into Thao when we first started dating, but I could never get over how off-key it sounded. Her voice has greatly improved over the years, but it's still not my favourite.

The Sufjan portion was very strong, full of creative energy that bordered on ridiculous. Usually when I listen to a Sufjan CD, it just sounds like a few members of the Early Renaissance Music Ensemble got lost during the parade, but the live show really pulled the music together. If the CDs were more like the live show, I'd definitely like them more. The only flaw in the production was the potentially migraine-inducing lights shined directly at the audience during every other song, which could be construed as either an artistic choice or a clever form of bootleg video prevention.

On Saturday night, we went over to the Smiths for leftover steaks and game night. We played a new game, Apotheca, which was good enough that I would consider buying a copy myself.

Sunday was, as usual, a chore day. We cleaned and realigned the treadmill and had a low-key but satisfying dinner at the V. We ended the day with the first episode of the second season of Fargo, which looks like it's going to be good.

How was your weekend?

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 2 comments

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Vote BU 2016

Having trouble deciding who to vote for in the upcoming election? Take a look at the BU party platform and consider voting for me! When I'm elected as 45th President, these are the changes you can expect to see enacted:

  1. Arnold Schwarzenegger will be my Vice President.

  2. Representatives of the great state of Virginia will get 1 extra vote in each roll call.

  3. Evite will no longer include a "Maybe" option on invitations.

  4. Funding will be provided to immediately reshoot the endings of Dexter and How I Met Your Mother, with updated DVDs distributed to anyone negatively affected by the original endings.

  5. All bicycles will be equipped with regulators that force them to stop at road crossings.

  6. All small, shaggy, barky, drooly dogs will be replaced with Maine Coons.

  7. Personal Bluetooth speakers will be banned on the Appalachian Trail.

  8. Kanye West must pass a diction test before releasing another album.

  9. Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota will be merged into a single low-population state (Mondahota), with the associated reduction in Senators.

  10. Mobile apps will no longer be allowed to translate perfectly useful timestamps into "4 hours ago".

  11. The "shaky cam" technique in movies will be banned.

  12. Facebook will always show you the Most Recent posts.

  13. Coldplay's Fix You will no longer be allowed in TV soundtracks.

  14. Supreme Court vacancies will be filled by one of those animals that can accurately predict sports winners, starting with Paul the Octopus.

  15. Every time Google cancels one of its applications, they must immediately add 10 new cities to their Google Fiber initiative.

  16. Microbreweries will only be allowed to brew 1 IPA at a time.

  17. The opening ceremonies of the Olympics will not last longer than 1 hour. To expedite the proceedings, all athletes will be chased by frightful pumas as they march in country by country.

  18. All movie studios must stop making superhero movies immediately and indefinitely.

  19. All service stations must be converted into either a Sheetz or a Wawa.

  20. All procedural delaying tactics in the House or Senate, such as filibustering, must be performed while naked.

tagged as lists, politics | permalink | 6 comments

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken 24 years ago, in February 1992.

Boy Scout Troop 131 was marching in the annual George Washington Birthday Parade in Old Town Alexandria and repeating the pithy slogan, "East is east, west is west, 131 is the best," solely because no one could think of any words that rhymed with "south".

I was carrying the Alexandria City Flag here, not out of civic pride, but because one of the adult leaders said I was too small to do it and predicted that I would get tired before the end of the parade. I survived.

tagged as memories | permalink | 2 comments

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Shameless, Season One (US remake):
This show, featuring William H. Macy as a narcissistic alcoholic dad with six kids, does a nice job of walking the "dramedy" line. The actors put out some nice performances while the tone never gets so serious as to be depressing. You'll also quickly fill your quota for nudity and sex, a difficult thing to do while Game of Thrones is on hiatus. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B+

Chuy's in Sterling, VA:
When this Mexican chain became the fourth Mexican restaurant in a one mile radius, we didn't expect it to stand out. However, they differentiate themselves from the others with fresh ingredients, meats that have more character than the usual "100 permutations of taco meat", and free meat and queso dip during Happy Hour. We had really slow service on the deck around the time they first opened, but have been satisfied otherwise.

Final Grade: B+

Halt and Catch Fire, Season Two:
The second season strikes a nice balance between pushing the characters into their own story arcs (based on the fallout of the first season) while still allowing them to butt heads. Lee Pace does a good job of actually making his character likeable, and Toby Huss as Bosworth steals every scene he's in. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B+

Apotheca:
This is the game we played with the Smiths last weekend. Designed for 2, 3, or 4 players (in teams), the game involves matching three of a kind on a board of hidden and revealed colors while using special cards to rearrange the board with chess-like moves. It's pretty quick to learn, takes less than 30 minutes to play, and has a nice strategic balance where it's hard to set yourself up for a win while also deterring your opponent. The game pieces are rugged and the cards have a nice artistic style. I would play it again, and in fact, I ordered it yesterday.

First Impression: B+

tagged as reviews | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, July 29, 2016

End-of-the-Month Highlights Day

New photos have been added to the Life, 2016 album.

  • Events
    • Made wrap steaks for a yoga "shirt-cutting" party on S 7/2 and hiked 10 miles at Signal Knob on S 7/3.

    • Had our traditional 4th at the Whitmer's in Taylorstown on M 7/4.

    • Went to Rebecca's work picnic in Olney Park on F 7/8.

    • Had meatloaf with my parents on S 7/9 and a delicious Fords dinner on S 7/10.

    • Picked up Rebecca's parents from the airport following their California adventure on T 7/12.

    • Hosted a Bastille Day BBQ on S 7/16, then tried out the tapas restaurant, Barcelona on S 7/17.

    • Attacked by angry yellow jackets while mowing on W 7/20.

    • Attended the Thao / Sufjan concert at Wolf Trap on F 7/22.

    • Had Game Night with the Smiths on S 7/23 and then ate at the V for dinner on S 7/24.

    • Planning to attend an "Acro Yoga" event with Rebecca this evening.

  • Projects
    • Worked on no proposals this month while waiting for the backlog of 3 previous ones to be awarded (1 of which we won yesterday!), and even took a few extra days off here and there.

    • Nuked a yellow jacket nest with more Raid than necessary, in retribution for two stings.

    • Did no open source work. Reached level 190 in Overwatch.

  • Consumerism
    • Got new tires and wipers for my car.

    • Downloaded all of the albums that Rebecca has ever gifted to me from her Amazon account and am reacquainting myself with them now.

    • Enjoyed watching seasons of Shameless and Halt and Catch Fire, and eagering taking in the second season of Fargo at the moment.

July's Final Grade: B+, way too hot, but a surplus of free time.

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 2 comments

 

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