03/2017

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Memory Day: 1990

In 1990, I was 10 going on 11 and finishing off my final year at James K. Polk Elementary School. The curriculum this year was pretty nondescript, ranging from boring World History focused mostly on Mesopotamia, to science terrariums full of aphids that always died because there was too much mold on the basement level of the school. Besides playing cornet in the band, my claim to fame was being the special safety patrol in charge of the school entrance next to the kindergarten classes. I got to stay out for five extra minutes after the first bell and left class five minutes early to make sure that anxious parents could pick up their tots. This was before the days of total school lockdown, so honestly, I pretty much just let anyone at all in.

My best friend this year was named Daniel but unfortunately he moved away just after the school year ended. He remains one of the few people I've written actual letters to, complete with stamps and handwritten envelopes. Just before he left, he had a birthday / going away party at the local Go Kart track. The staff was skeptical about letting someone as small as I was drive alone, and after getting stuck on the tire walls twice, they drove me back and told me to wait in the arcade.

Also at the end of this year, the game Ultima VI came out and I spent most of the summer designing tile-based RPG maps of the worlds in my imagination, with names like Replocian and New Storia. I even brought the game with my on our multi-week trip to visit the Uri clan in Henderson, Nevada, but no one there had a computer with an EGA graphics card. Spending time with our Uri cousins was fun, but we didn't really fit very well. I was a very arrogant know-it-all that got on everyone's nerves. I also took the opportunity to earn all of the farm-related Boy Scout merit badges, merely by virtue of the fact that my Uncle agreed to be considered a "merit badge counselor". I didn't actually do much Rabbit Raising, but I gathered a ton of goose eggs.

Other posts in this series: 1979 | 1980 | 1981 | 1982 | 1983 | 1984 | 1985 | 1986 | 1987 | 1988 | 1989

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Friday, March 03, 2017

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Season Two:
This remains a fun, no-investment treadmill show that occasionally has some really funny musical parodies. Thankfully, the overarching plot is allowed to naturally shift away from last season's love triangle which was starting to get old even though it was the original premise.

Final Grade: B

The Accountant (R):
I liked this action movie about Ben Affleck as an autistic accountant with surprising skills much more than expected. Good escapist entertainment with some nice character development. The twists are pretty easy to spot miles away, but it didn't affect my enjoyment.

Final Grade: B

Game of Thrones, Season Six:
I was bored for most of this season and I'm glad that the later episodes started showing hints of all of the disparate plot lines starting to come together. Also, how narrow is the Narrow Sea? Seems like everyone started crossing it in minutes once the plots demanded that people be on both continents in successive scenes.

Final Grade: B-

You're the Worst, Season Two:
Season Two is still very profane and funny but with a more serious storyline about a character's depression. I normally don't like shows with morally empty main characters, but the sides characters like Edgar counterbalance the general meanness. The side plot involving a fake rapper grudge was my favourite part of the season.

Final Grade: B

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Monday, March 06, 2017

List Day: Parenting Responsibilities

5 Things I'll Excel At

  1. Dad jokes

  2. Logistics

  3. Babyproofing

  4. Patience

  5. Preparing meals with sufficient amounts of protein

5 Things I'm Not Looking Forward To

  1. Playing make-believe

  2. General increase in ambient noise

  3. Reduction in personal free time

  4. Kid germs

  5. Chauffeuring to organized sports practices

tagged as lists | permalink | 2 comments

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken 27 years ago in 1990. I'm wearing my President's Physical Fitness Challenge T-shirt from my brief encounter with Arnold.

As a Boy Scout, I really got into fishing during my first foray into summer camp at Camp Sinoquipe. As whim hobbies were wont to progress in the Uri household, I had a full tackle box filled with rubbery and shiny lures and my own titanium fishing rod before the summer was out. This is a stalker photo of me fishing on the Potomac River opposite the Washington Sailing Marina.

The problem with fishing is that interest does not directly equate to catching fish. I never caught a single thing in the one or two years I tried fishing, even with worms dug up from the backyard.

tagged as memories | permalink | 3 comments

Friday, March 10, 2017

First Impressions: Oculus Rift

With the millions of dollars gained by selling back 5 weeks of leave from my last job, I decided to get one last pre-adulthood extravagance and purchased an Oculus Rift. Of course, it arrived just two days before they dropped the price by $200.

Not to sound like a shitty Ted Talk or anything, but virtual reality is finally here. After many false starts like those mall kiosks in the early 90s and awful 3D Televisions, the Oculus Rift is a high quality, consumer-grade solution that will change not only gaming, but also the way we interact with other people online. Using it for just a few minutes gave me a sense of technology awe that I haven't really experienced since the Wii first overpromised its motion controls and the whole world pretended that they had excellent tennis form for hours over Christmas 2006.

Though a little tedious to setup and a bit tight around the eyes for people wearing glasses, this first-generation tech feels polished enough to be second or third generation, and even runs great on my aged graphics card (GTX 960) which is one tier less than the minimum requirements on the box. The Touch controllers are a must as well, giving you a sensation of feeling and hand presence in the virtual world that the provided XBox controller does not.

I've been so busy with work recently that I've only had time to play in short bursts in the evening (mainly the free downloadable games available with my purchase):

  • First Contact, Dear Angelica, Gary the Gull, and Dreamdeck provide some nice tech demos that get you acclimated to being in a virtual space.
  • Lucky's Tale is a polished Mario 64 style game where you hover over the game board in a "god camera" view, which immediately nullifies the usual 3D platformer camera issues you would usually expect in a game like this.
  • Robo Recall (and its demo Bullet Train) is a big budget AAA game that comes free with the Touch controllers and shows a lot of promise. Though I haven't played past the first level yet, I'm looking forward to beating up robots.
  • The Climb is a rock climbing game that I purchased with store credit (for being the last loser to buy the Oculus Rift at its original price), and though it seems pretty shallow on the surface, it really drives home the sense of scale and depth possible. My arms are actually tired after climbing up a few mountains, and looking down a canyon almost triggers real vertigo.

Beyond gaming, sometimes it's just as enjoyable to launch Google Earth VR and stand on top of recreated landmarks like Half Dome or the Eiffel Tower.

I will do a full review once the hype has worn off, but I'm really sold on VR at the moment. The only drawbacks are when the illusion is broken by real world limitations, such as going out of range of a sensor, or reaching the edge of your physical room and having to reorient back to the middle.

tagged as reviews, games | permalink | 1 comment

Monday, March 13, 2017

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

6:55 AM: Up at 6 AM, but robbed of an hour.
7:00 AM: Early morning overtime for work.
8:11 AM: Booty arrives to help and/or hinder.
9:58 AM: Late breakfast over the, now-weekly, newspaper.
10:56 AM: Rebecca and a visiting Alice watch episodes of Catfish because it's too cold to go outside and do anything.
11:36 AM: Lunchtime for cats.
1:26 PM: Back to work for a couple hours.
3:38 PM: Giving Alice a whirl on the Oculus Rift.
4:40 PM: Obligatory pre-blizzard Safeway run for the essentials.
5:00 PM: Level 547 in Overwatch.
6:36 PM: Ridiculously out-of-focus picture of our Bon Chon dinner.
8:11 PM: Leftover apple crisp while watching I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken 27 years ago in September 1990.

One of our elder scout leaders owned land in Spotsylvania where we were allowed to camp once every month. Sometimes, these trips involved a side tour of nearby Fredericksburg where we learned boring facts about the Civil War.

I'm obviously ducking down so I don't block any of the short people in the back row. I'm also wearing my prized possession -- a laminated shark's tooth that eventually shattered after one too many uses as a hopskotch token.

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Friday, March 17, 2017

Stuff in My Drawers Day

I drew this picture in April 1986 at the age of 6.

I was fresh from a trip to the Petersburg Battlefield, south of Richmond and the site of the longest battle in the Civil War. Having traveled to every battlefield in Virginia by the time I could do simple mathematics, I was oozing Civil War knowledge like a first grade know-it-all. Pictured here, is the use of sappers during trench warfare between the North and South. This strategy failed when the sappers dug too deep below their intended exit point and completely missed it. The tunnels then collapsed and everyone cried. Screw ups!

I'm not actually sure if Robert Lee himself was a sapper, but if he was a good leader, he would have taken a turn at the trowel.

tagged as media | permalink | 1 comment

Monday, March 20, 2017

Data Day: When I Sleep

My sleep schedule has been pretty predictable since I was a kid. Before college, I would wake up with my dad at 5:42 AM and had a bedtime that slowly grew to 10 PM by the time I was a senior. In college, I would stay up super late partying in my room alone until midnight, and often got a full 8 hours of sleep -- I never once pulled an all-nighter. Finally, since joining the workforce, I have kept my wake-up time pretty consistently around 5:30 AM with a nice, early 10 PM bedtime.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken 10 years ago, in June 2007.

I'm sitting in Anna's living room in Manassas with Ella, who had just turned 2 months old, and I'm surrounded by the resident cats, Kitty and Sydney (Kydney), long before there were ferrets. I wore that new sweater pretty heavily for about two months until it accidentally ended up in the dryer and came out 3 sizes too small.

I think Kitty swallowed some geometry.

tagged as memories | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, March 24, 2017

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Arrival (PG-13):
The exposition of this movie is way too long, as if the director took the classic movie maxim, "Don't show the shark too soon," and turned it into a Mahler symphony. It eventually gets somewhat interesting but then goes off in weird sci-fi directions at the conclusion. I liked the movie the most in the middle 3rd when it was all about linguistics. Skip it.

Final Grade: C-

I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore (NR):
This is an interesting indie flick co-starring Elijah Wood as a weird neighbour who joins the lead in a quest to find the people that robbed her house. In spite of a few moments of weird for the sake of weirdness and the ever-escalating violence, I enjoyed it. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B

Sausage Party (R):
I'm not really sure of the target market for this movie. It feels like someone put Judd Apatow in cryostasis for ten years and then he tried to make an edgy cartoon that would resonate in 2007 -- this is made more impressive by the fact that Judd Apatow isn't even involved. The movie is a continuous stream of cartoon sex jokes that might be funny if you're extremely high, yet there's a loose real-world moral weakly wrapped around the story that seems silly to include because it's not a cartoon you would ever show your kids. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: D

Henry:
This Virtual Reality movie about a hedgehog that can't make friends because he's too prickly to hug actually won an Emmy last year. It's a silly 20 minute Pixar-like cartoon that's made more visceral by the fact that you sit in the middle of the action and the movie plays around you in 3D. It's charming and well-created although it works better as a taste of what a VR movie could one day be than a work of art on its own. Free on the Oculus Rift.

Final Grade: B+

tagged as reviews | permalink | 1 comment

Monday, March 27, 2017

Weekend Wrap-up

On Friday night, we stayed in eating Boston Market and finishing the first season of Sneaky Pete (first viewing for Rebecca and second viewing for me).

On Saturday, an eventful morning included a trip to Costco, followed by donation drop offs to the library and a local thrift shop to make extra space in the house for progeny. In the evening, I made grilled tortillas full of strawberries and Nutella, and then we went to Michelle's apartment for Sara's birthday party.

On Sunday, we briefly started putting together a baby registry before getting overwhelmed, then went for a brisk walk in Claude Moore Park followed by a run to Home Depot for baby room paint samples. In the evening we went over to Tammy and Chris' for beef ribs, corn on the cob, and great company.

How was your weekend?

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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken 28 years ago, in the Fall of 1989.

As newly popular eighth graders, my sister and her friend, Laura, are showing off the finest in early 90s apparel from the Gap. I'm wearing my brand new Boy Scout shorts three sizes too large because no JC Penney's in the National Capitol area carried my size.

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Friday, March 31, 2017

End-of-the-Month Highlights Day

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

  • Events
    • Spent the weekend in rural Manassas for a birth class on F 3/3 and S 3/4.

    • Alice came to visit from South Carolina from H 3/9 - M 3/13. We visited Crooked Run Brewery's new Sterling location and had dinner at Chuy's on F 3/10, then had Michael and Taje over for Game Night on S 3/11. On S 3/12, we introduced Alice to Bonchon.

    • It snowed weakly on T 3/14 and immediately melted.

    • We hit our first milestone at work to rave reviews on W 3/15.

    • We had our local friends over for St. Patrick's Day on F 3/17.

    • We purged a ton of archived junk to make room for future inhabitants, resulting in two trash cans of detritus and a car-full of donations on S 3/19.

    • We tried and enjoyed our new local Thai restaurant, Siam Spice, on T 3/21.

    • We donated three massive boxes of books to the public library and then attended Sara's birthday party accompanied by strawberry and Nutella tortillas on S 3/25.

    • We had dinner with Tammy and Chris on S 3/26.

    • We tried out Miller's Ale House on T 3/28 and enjoyed our experience, even if it wasn't anything super special.

  • Projects
    • Averaged 60 hours per week at work through a successful first milestone mid-month, and am enjoying the 11 minute commute to Herndon.

  • Consumerism
    • Got to level 579 in Overwatch, with 592 hours played and a 51.5% winrate.

    • Enthralled with the Oculus Rift.

    • Started registering for baby nonsense.

    • No new music or TV shows to speak of this month.

March's Final Grade: B-, a little too much work, and I'm anxiously awaiting an end to see-sawing weather patterns

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