01/2017

Monday, January 02, 2017

Happy New Year!

Here's something we're looking forward to in 2017:

tagged as offspring | permalink | 9 comments

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Memory Day: 1988

In 1988, I was 8 going on 9 and finishing out a successful 4th grade year. We had our first Family Life class, where all the boys went with Mr. Cmiel to learn about the vas deferens while all of the girls went next door with Mrs. Sharkey. At recess, our favorite game was to fill the tire swing with as many kids as possible and push it as high as possible until the inevitable bloody nose when kids fell out at the highest point. Our favorite game after they took down the tire swing was finding bumblebees pollinating dandelions and kicking them as hard as possible (we probably accelerated the eventual extinction of bees by thirty years). I also had my first crush on my childhood friend, Jennie, although I never did anything about it.

Over the summer, we were babysat during the day by the mean lunch lady, who was actually very nice outside of school. She pretty much let us run amok in the Winkler Botanical Preserve which backed up to her apartment in the Hamlets (even though we weren't technically allowed to be out unsupervised).

In the fall, my sister matriculated up to 7th grade in Junior High and I started 5th grade in Mr. Ferris' class. He was a no-nonsense teacher who gave out 250-word punishment essays if you talked when you weren't supposed to (after a couple warnings and tics on the blackboard). I got exactly two punishments in my tenure but probably deserved many more for being a smartass.

My obsession at the time was to create my own mazes that I could DM people through during the ever-popular "lunch maze" session. Because of my internship with mean lunch lady (Ms. Skelly) over the summer, I had a prime spot at the "good" table, where we were allowed to talk even when the loudness traffic light turned red.

In gym, I sucked at everything on the Presidental Physical Fitness Exam except for Sit N' Reach, for which I was in the 100th percentile. I also started playing cornet in the band (because my hands were too tiny for a trumpet) which got me in trouble with my science teacher whose class I missed once a week to go to band. She was an ornery old lady that actually called my mom to inform her that I was missing too many classes and didn't deserve the A I was earning.

For a look at my social circle, here's the (previously-posted) video of my 9th birthday party.

Other posts in this series: 1979 | 1980 | 1981 | 1982 | 1983 | 1984 | 1985 | 1986 | 1987

tagged as memories | permalink | 4 comments

Friday, January 06, 2017

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Glitch, Season One:
After how great The Code and Dreamland were, I'll always give Australian shows a chance. This character thriller about six people from different eras who have suddenly come out of their graves in a local cemetary is very well done. The characters are well-developed and allowed to develop at their own pace (not as slowly as in Rectify). I enjoyed the reveals in the final episode of season one, but I really wanted more answers than I got. I'll definitely watch the second season if it comes out. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B

Giver (PG-13):
This adaptation of Lois Lowry's childrens' book is loaded with star power (including a heavily made-up Jeff Bridges). It was decent enough although I didn't remember the book well enough to know if the plot diverged. Don't watch it after binging episodes of Black Mirror because it will feel laughably tame as a result. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B-

Detectorists, Season One:
A droll British comedy about two friends who spend their days metal detecting while discussing the TV shows they watched the night before is a nice balance of camp and heart. A very pleasant way to end a long day. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B+

Colony, Season One:
This new sci-fi show depicts a world that has been taken over by aliens with major cities turned into walled-in colonies under marshal rule. Starring Sawyer from LOST and Sarah from Prison Break, the show has a lot of potential, although it didn't really grab me until the fourth or fifth episode. There's a sense of blandness in spite of the intriguing world-building. By the last episode, I felt like all of the potential had been squandered -- it could have pushed the envelope much more and felt less static. In other words, this is exactly the type of show I would expect Carlton Cuse to create after LOST. I might watch the next season if it's free on Netflix but won't hold my breath. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B-

tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments

Monday, January 09, 2017

Weekend Wrap-up

We woke up to more snow than expected on Saturday morning, so I postponed my planned Costco trip in exchange for being warm in the house. I did a few hours of work in the morning and then watched an episode of Travelers with Rebecca. In the evening we hosted our Hyperion book club, for a book that continues to get less interesting as it progresses. In compensation, we ate three-bean chili and mini chocolate eclairs.

On Sunday, we went out to Taylorstown for a late Christmas with the Whitmer / Link side of the family. We exchanged gifts, sang 1 Christmas carol, and ate even more chili.

Outside of the weekend, 2017 is going well so far. I work about 48 - 52 hours per week by choice, and have written more software in a month than I did in the last two years combined. We still haven't moved to a Herndon office yet, but I only commute down to Fairfax City twice a week now, so it feels much less intrusive.

How was your weekend and how is your 2017? Have you stopped writing 2016 yet?

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 0 comments

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken twenty eight years ago in April 1989.

I'm attending a camping trip with my Dad at Vint Hill Farms. He writes:

We spent two nights there and you seemed to have a good time interacting with the other scouts. You decided then that you would continue on with Boy Scouts. Because Vint Hill Farms is a military installation and I was taking pictures, some enlisted man wanted to take my camera and film. I appealed to a higher authority and the camera was returned. Hence you have the photo.

Since this was one of the few camping trips that parents attended as well, so I was living large with a pot of propane-heated baked beans and hotdogs rather than the usual mush we'd make over a slowly dying natural fire. On my left is my trusty pointy stick, found and whittled to a point the day before, because you can never be a cub scout without a good pointy stick.

tagged as memories | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, January 13, 2017

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

5:56 AM: Showered and ready for work.
5:58 AM: Arrived in the office after a long commute.
7:02 AM: Working while Booty licks.
8:00 AM: Quick breakfast break.
9:30 AM: Back to work, sitting.
11:37 AM: Lunchtime.
12:00 PM: Back to work, standing.
12:15 PM: Rebecca leaves for work.
4:00 PM: Level 459 in Overwatch.
5:29 PM: Exercising and rewatching the pilot of Sneaky Pete.
6:03 PM: Giant burrito of leftover taco meat for dinner.
10:01 PM: Booty lurks, telepathically telling me to get off the computer and feed her.

tagged as 12 of 12 | permalink | 3 comments

Monday, January 16, 2017

List Day: 8 Ways I Could Save Money If I Were Less Lazy

  1. The cost of a print Washington Post subscription has increased to $98 for 8 weeks of paper, and the print edition always contains the stories I read online two days earlier. ($637 / year)

  2. I'm never near a Popeyes anymore but I order too often from Domino's. ($300 / year)

  3. I tip based on the total plus tax rather than the total because I feel like I can afford to do so. ($192 / year)

  4. My Amazon Prime subscription is great, but three-day shipping really isn't that slow, and I rarely find anything both interesting and free to watch on Amazon Video. ($99 / year)

  5. I have Rebecca's engagement ring on my homeowner's insurance and have almost paid 1/3rd of its value in insurance since it was added. ($86 / year)

  6. I go to the gas station conveniently located on the way home from the grocery store instead of waiting in an endless line for the Costco gas. ($48 / year)

  7. I get Consumer Reports and read it monthly, but haven't actually bought anything rated in it in years. ($30 / year)

  8. I take the Dulles Greenway anytime I have to travel north on a weekend. ($26 / year)

tagged as lists | permalink | 3 comments

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Memory Day: 1989

In 1989, I was 9 going on 10 and comfortable in my role as "the smart kid" younger than everyone else in the fifth grade. This was the year that the show, Doogie Howser, M.D., came out, so "Doogie" became one of the nicknames I got stuck with. Still, I had my close circle of friends including Aaron, Mike, Sharif, and Daniel.

I enjoyed playing the cornet, although there were no band concerts in this first year. Instead I spent most afternoons ignoring the Ed Sueta Book I practice book in favour of solo versions of the theme songs to various TV shows. I could dazzle with the theme song from the Garry Shandling show, but I hated to practice boring things.

After school, I was enrolled in a gymnastics class where I excelled at splits:

Meanwhile, my sister was turning into an edgy 7th grader with clothes from the GAP (and it was more important to carry the GAP bag around school than it was to actually have the clothing). We got along reasonably well, although she always bossed me around on Tuesday nights when my parents went out to choir practice and she was in charge.

We had two guinea pigs at home, Speedy and Pokey, which were cute for about a day and then really annoying from then on. They followed the normal progression of pet ownership -- we kept them until my dad got tired of taking care of them himself and got rid of them.

This was also the year we finally got a Nintendo Entertainment System (as well as two Game Boys), months after all of the other kids in the neighborhood. More enthralling than Nintendo, though, was the AdLib sound card we installed in our computer to add sound to all our ____ Quest games. This was the first step in my progression towards writing my own music with a computer. I also bonded with a six-grade girl in our shared multi-grade TAG language arts class because she played Infocom text adventure games, and we would make copies of our latest games and trade them in spite of those crazy write-protected 5 1/4" floppy disks.

In the fall, I started 6th grade (still at James K. Polk Elementary) in Mrs. Turner's class. Around the same time, I graduated out of the Cub Scouts and into Boy Scout Troop 131, where I rapidly became a Tenderfoot rank within the first six months (as part of my dad's drive to get me to Eagle Scout before I lost interest in the whole affair).

Other posts in this series: 1979 | 1980 | 1981 | 1982 | 1983 | 1984 | 1985 | 1986 | 1987 | 1988

tagged as memories | permalink | 2 comments

Friday, January 20, 2017

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

This Was Tomorrow by Seth Sentry:
This solo Australian hip-hop artist reminds me a bit of Just Jack with more of a comedic edge. There's a decent amount of variety in the arrangements on this album and it's a fun car listen. Thanks For Your Hospitality is a good, representative track from this album.

Final Grade: B

Ocean's Twelve (PG-13):
I watched Ocean's Eleven on a trip back in 2001 because there was nothing else to do in New Jersey. I never watched the sequels because I felt that adding more characters to a story that already had too many was a really bad idea. This movie proved me right -- there's still far too many characters but the pressure is off to actually develop any of them. It's good enough for a couple hours of light, breezy fun. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B-

It Doesn't Have to Make Sense by Ingrid Michaelson:
I don't really understand this album. There are a handful of catchy songs on the last half, but they're buried in a bunch of Adult Contemporary garbage that sounds like everything else on the radio. Get the songs you like and skip the rest.

Final Grade: C+

Black Mirror, Season Three:
This six episode Netflix-funded season is as strong as the original two seasons and retains the unsettling, realistic look at near-future technologies. Each episode is a separate narrative with different characters, and all are best watched without introduction or explanation. Though no episode is weak, a few seem less thematically tied into the canvas that Charlie Booker has created. Episodes 1 and 5 were my favourites, with 4 and 6 close runner-ups.

Final Grade: A-

tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments

Monday, January 23, 2017

Baby Consumerism Day

Because there is rarely a legitimate situation where you can say "As a mother..." or "As a father..." without sounding douchey, I am opening up the floor today to all URI! Zone readers who are farther along the progeny track than we are.

What should we buy that is indispensable? What seems useful but never gets used? What should we avoid?

The general rule of thumb I've learned so far is to avoid anything that only has 1 advertised purpose, and fill those needs through multi-purpose items and/or leftover Amazon Prime boxes. Enlighten me further!

tagged as you speak | permalink | 8 comments

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken 25 years ago, in December 1992.

I'm a freshman, posing with my classy lacquered Conn cornet with the Shepherd's Crook. Around my neck is an ankh, which came with the computer game, Ultima 4 and replaced the 1" shark's tooth I found at Calvert Cliffs (which eventually wore away to nothing after being worn around my neck for years).

Though we look like a musical family, we rarely played anything together, other than endless Christmas carol sessions coordinated by my dad so he could improve on his tuba.

tagged as memories | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, January 27, 2017

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Rise of the Tomb Raider:
Like its predecessor, this is game is very well done and really gives you a kinetic feeling as you spiral through 3D landscapes with a tight, effective control scheme. It's as much fun to watch as it is to play, but gets a little bogged down by console-style gameplay (collect X useful things, unlock Y useless upgrades, and of course, crafting things out of animal skins) and too much repetitive combat. I enjoyed playing it for about 20 hours, but never really got enough momentum or inspiration to finish it off.

Final Grade: B-

Borderline, Season One:
This mockumentary about agents working in a small British airport starts out promising, but after a few episodes, it plays out like a much weaker version of the American version of The Office. The last few episodes are needlessly repetitive, as if they just eventually ran out of ideas -- this doesn't bode well since the whole season is only 6 twenty minute episodes. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: C-

Hyperion by Dan Simmons:
This book was the driving force behind the forming of a book club amongst Rebecca's yoga friends. Told in discrete stories, similar to the Canterbury Tales, the book excels at world-building but drags on and on. Of the six back stories revealed, I only really liked the Scholar's Tale, and I was disappointed by the lack of payoff at the end of the book.

Final Grade: C

Lucky Number Slevin (R):
This is a stylish gangster / whodunit film that reminds me of the glory days of such films before Quentin Tarantino OD'd on the genre. It's always fun, and features good performances from all of the main actors (including Ben Kingsley, Morgan Freeman, and Bruce Willis). Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B

tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments

Monday, January 30, 2017

End-of-the-Month Highlights Day

A few photos have been added to the Life, 2017 album. Google Photos sucks.

  • Events
    • Met up with Holland Marc for burgers at Burger 21 on M 1/2.

    • Had the 2nd (of 3) Book Club meetings for Hyperion on S 1/7.

    • Had a late Christmas with the Whitmer/Link side of the family on S 1/8.

    • Had a Taste of Burma / Costco date night on F 1/13.

    • Had a team meeting followed by dinner at FQB on W 1/18.

    • Went to a Novetta Happy Hour in Herndon on H 1/19.

    • Went to a Cake Eating Party at Parry's on F 1/20.

    • Went to a Puppy Birthday Party at Ghazaleh and Mike's on S 1/21.

    • Had a visit from Oklahoma Emily on T 1/24.

    • Met Rebecca's parents for lunch at Tuscarora Mill followed by a tasting at Crooked Run on S 1/28. Hosted Fredericksburg Catherine that evening before an early Dulles flight to Curacao.

  • Projects
    • No new projects this month, although I switched to 2 days per week in office at work, saving plenty of time for other things.

  • Consumerism
    • Got to level 490 in Overwatch (501 hours played).

    • No good new music this month, but enjoyed the first season of Sneaky Pete.

    • Converted my Washington Post subscription to Sundays only, saving $500 a year

January's Final Grade: B, still busy but Rebecca's feeling better, so we're doing a little more than we did last month!

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 1 comment

 

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 - 2017 by Brian Uri!. Please see the About page for further information.

Jump to Top
Jump to the Front Page


January 2017
SMTWHFS
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031
BIRTHDAYS
BLOGLOG
10/14
10/12
09/08

OLD POSTS
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
visitors since November 2003