02/2019

Friday, February 01, 2019

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Patriot, Season Two:
I liked the first season when I watched it, then loved it when I watched it again with Rebecca. The second season is slightly more absurd with less payoff but I appreciated how tonally and thematically consistent it was -- the creator definitely has a unique voice and cinematography that he stays true to. A couple of the characters I liked the most from season one were pushed to the sidelines here, but it was still worth a watch.

Final Grade: B-

The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu:
This highly-regarded sci-fi book is flawed. The core ideas are actually pretty interesting but held back by flat characters and the fact that it's an English translation of a Chinese work. The last third of the book is actually the best part and does a good job of merging the science with the plot, but it takes forever to get there. I almost gave up around the 40% mark.

Final Grade: C+

Eighth Grade (R):
Bo Burnham's movie on the difficulty of being an eighth grader feels very honest, even without the craziness of phones and social media added to the mix. It effectively captures that middle school feeling of "I'm so much more mature than I was last year and I'll never make the same mistakes again" and makes me hope that the technology pendulum swings back towards being Amish by the time Maia is in 8th grade. Free on Amazon Prime.

Final Grade: B

Sing Till You Die by Yearbook Committee:
I occasionally buy albums ear-unheard based on singles I liked on Pandora. In this case, it was the instrumental, Old Churchyard. This album had two catastrophic negatives going against it -- none of the musicians seem to be able to carry a pitch, and none of the rest of the songs are instrumentals. As I played the album the first time, the rate at which I skipped awful-sounding songs like Ballad of Eleanor Cecilia Bailly accelerated towards the speed of light after which I permanently deleted it.

Final Grade: D-

tagged as reviews | permalink | 1 comment

Monday, February 04, 2019

Census Day

Blogging has become a charmingly quaint practice for old-fashioned people, not unlike going into the bathroom at work and hearing someone in the next stall tap out a message on their classic Blackberry, or watching America's Funniest Videos live on an actual TV. It is for this reason that visitors to the URI! Zone have gracefully ebbed over the years like a perpetual neap tide.

Are you someone that reads regularly (for the articles) and not just some undergrad music major that got caught in my honeypot of aural training cheat codes? Come out of lurking and say hello in the Comments section. All 5 trendsetters subscribed to my Atom feed will need to visit this website to find the Comments section.

  • Who are you?
  • Where do you live?
  • How does the URI! Zone fit into your daily routine?

In honor of low expectations, if at least 4 unique, real people respond by Sunday, February 10, 2019 at 1800 EDT, a randomly-selected commenter will get a $10 Amazon gift certificate.

tagged as website, contests | permalink | 10 comments

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Maia Month #19 Battle Report

Maia is 1 year and 7 months old now! She likes having control over her outfit, from necklaces and hats to fancy clothing and the pair of Christmas pajamas she keeps discovering and insisting on wearing all day long. She is definitely quick to express her frustration at being out of control of things in her environment, like coming inside from her beloved outdoors, not getting enough crackers, or not being able to turn her baby carriage around in the narrow bathroom.

She also cries when you don't give her enough stuffed animals at nighttime -- the current record is somewhere around 10. During a recent nap, she threw her favourite bunny out of the crib and started bawling. When no one had come in after a minute or two, she quietly reached out and got it herself then went to sleep.

Maia has several party tricks that she does consistently. When I ask her to howl like a wolf, she'll go, "AROOOO" (of course, she knows many other animal sounds as well). When saying goodbye or goodnight, she'll give you a hug, but only with her head (usually by resting it against your knee). She also does a cute "hands up in the air" gesture when she's looking for something and cannot find it anywhere.

Spoken words are on their way -- she can say "draw", "clock", "box", and "ball" in reference to those particular concepts and almost said "bible" the other day. She likes drawing with crayons and pens, but prefers watching YOU do so. If you say that food is hot, she'll blow a gentle breeze. If you mention driving or swaying, she'll rock around like she's doing the twist. All in all, it's a pretty fun age!

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

Friday, February 08, 2019

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

How to Ruin Everything by Watsky:
This collection of essays by rapper, Watsky, is pleasant enough but I noticed myself starting to skim in the last 1/3. Fun as book to pick up now and then, but not as good on a straight read-through. I did find it interesting that I heard the entire book in his voice as I read.

Final Grade: B-

Fyre:
This Netflix documentary is a fun, incredulous look at the disastrous Fyre Festival, with behind-the-scenes looks and interviews with many of the people involved. I haven't seen the competing Hulu documentary, but enjoyed this from start to finish. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B+

Russian Doll, Season One:
This is a fairly high-concept series with some similarities to the movie, Groundhog Day. Equal parts crass, deep, and unsettling, it occasionally overreaches but has a nice compact 8 episode run (30 minute episodes). Natasha Lyonne is perfect in the main role and the season has enough of an ending to feel self-contained while leaving room for the next two seasons (already greenlit). Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: A-

Strange New Past by Seth Sentry:
Seth's most recent album (2015) has a few good songs, especially Dumb, but it's not as good as the first album. The back half is pretty forgettable.

Final Grade: B-

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Monday, February 11, 2019

Census Day Results

Congratulations to Katie, who wins a $10 Amazon gift certificate for "showing up" for the census! Send me an email and I'll deliver it to your email in return!

There are definitely more lurkers in the ether that did not reply -- over the coming years, I'll have to see how high I need to increase the value of the prize before people start coming out of the woodwork.

Also, Evil Mike is welcome to choose a new adjective for his handle (should he want one), having outlasted Good Mike.

tagged as website, contests | permalink | 6 comments

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

12 pictures of your day on the 12th of every month

4:58 AM: Showered and ready for 13 hours of proposal writing.
5:10 AM: Relocated to the basement guest room to reduce the intersection between loud breakfast cat and sleeping family.
7:34 AM: Breakfast break.
8:58 AM: Back to work.
9:29 AM: Good morning!
10:18 AM: Reading while I work.
11:25 AM: Off to a gym class.
12:25 PM: Unhealthy working lunch.
1:44 PM: Messy lunch.
2:09 PM: Stealing my slippers to avoid a nap.
5:47 PM: Family dinner at Cafesano.
7:57 PM: Making Valentines while I work.

tagged as 12 of 12 | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, February 15, 2019

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

No Good by Ivy Levan:
This album opens with a few promising tracks like Kiss My Biscuit, but front-loads all of the beats. The last half of the album is a bunch of forgettable power ballads, and there's also an odd socially dissonant song about enjoying abusive relationships. I like Ivy's voice though.

Final Grade: C+

How the Story Ends by B. Reith:
I feel like this positive-outlook rapper is like who Eminem would have been with a good home life. There's a little more singing and less rapping on this album, which makes me prefer his first one, Now Is Not Forever, a bit more.

Final Grade: B-

Everyone We Know by Thundamentals:
A middle-of-the-road album from this Australian hip hop group, Thundamentals -- pleasant to have on in the car, but nothing stands out as amazing. Never Say Never is a pretty fun track.

Final Grade: B-

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe (Switch):
This is the laziest Mario game since New Super Maro Bros. 2, the previous record-holder for lazy Mario games. The elements of 2D Mario games approach you in the exact same allotments and the exact same progression as everything that came before it. I enjoy playing it for a level or two at a time, but get bored quickly. It's also time to get rid of all the Mario tropes that are no longer relevant -- extra lives? having to return to the map everything you die? Platformers have evolved since then. In spite of this criticism, I do hope that they make a New Super Mario Bros. U2, just so you can play as Bono.

Final Grade: C-

tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments

Monday, February 18, 2019

Paint Day

As a delayed Valentine's outing, we did another paint'n'wine outing at Pinot's Palette. Here is the original:

See if you can figure out which half is mine and which half is Rebecca's!

tagged as media | permalink | 5 comments

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

12 of 12 Fallout

Here are all of the Washington Post front page headlines captured in my 12 of 12 photos between 2006 and 2018. It's hurricanes and Trump all the way down!

  • February 12, 2010: Blizzard rakes weary region

  • December 12, 2010: In higher education, lessons in equality

  • March 12, 2011: Japan reeling after 8.9 earthquake

  • November 12, 2012: At a loss in Red America

  • July 12, 2013: 'The world has left us behind'

  • September 12, 2013: US arms reach rebels

  • November 12, 2013: Wreckage stands in way of fast relief in the Philippines

  • June 12, 2014: Cantor's loss ignites House leadership fight

  • August 12, 2014: FBI will investigate shooting in Ala.

  • November 12, 2014: US and China announce climate deal

  • December 12, 2014: House passes $1.1 trillion spending bill

  • January 12, 2015: More than a million march in Paris

  • February 12, 2015: A cheating husband's worst nightmare

  • March 12, 2015: Economy faces a surprise risk: surging dollar

  • May 12, 2015: Texas bill would limit marriage licenses

  • August 12, 2015: How is Bernie Sanders doing?

  • November 12, 2015: GOP fissures on foreign policy

  • December 12, 2015: Small nations noticed in Paris

  • February 12, 2016: US, Russia agree to a halt in Syrian war

  • March 12, 2016: 'A love story for the ages'

  • April 12, 2016: Another river to cross: College

  • May 12, 2016: Islamic State strikes at Baghdad

  • July 12, 2016: Theresa May lands job as UK's leader

  • August 12, 2016: Clinton goes after Trump's pitch on aiding 'little guy'

  • September 12, 2016: Clinton falls ill at 9/11 service

  • October 12, 2016: Trump bashes GOP leaders

  • November 12, 2016: Trump team is hedging on some pledges

  • January 12, 2017: Trump concedes Russia hacked DNC

  • February 12, 2017: Greenland's uranium dilemma

  • March 12, 2017: Unlikely footholds for EU's far right

  • July 12, 2017: White House plunges into chaos as Trump fumes over fallout from son's Russia revelations

  • September 12, 2017: Irma leaves millions in the dark in Florida

  • October 12, 2017: Trump threatens to abandon Puerto Rico recovery efforts

  • November 12, 2017: Trump criticized for saying Putin is sincere in denial of election meddling

  • February 12, 2018: Scott Pruitt's travel practices -- secretive, costly and frequent -- distinguish his EPA tenure

  • July 12, 2018: Trump upends NATO summit, demands immediate spending increases

  • August 12, 2018: Seattle hijacker's plane heist, stunts, crash expose gaps in aviation security

  • October 12, 2018: Pope accepts Wuerl's resignation

  • November 12, 2018: Democrats signal aggressive scrutiny of Trump, resist impeachment calls

  • December 12, 2018: 'This has spiraled downard': Democrats introduce Trump to divided government

tagged as 12 of 12, data | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, February 22, 2019

One Year Day

On this excellent 222 Day, here are pictures of Maia and me on 2/21/18 and 2/21/19.

  • A year ago, it was 74 degrees and we were walking in the woods. Today it was in the mid 60s and 5 inches of snow were rapidly melting and turning the yard into a soggy bottom.

  • Over a single year, the quality of our Safeway has declined enough that every third grocery trip is to Giant (for clean, vast, empty aisles full of good selections with the downside of super expensive prices). Wegmans is our "let's feel fancy" grocery store but the traffic and cramped quarters inside often deter us.

  • This week last year, I worked 12 hours. This year, I'm already up over 50 hours.

  • A year ago, West Coast Mike had not yet gotten married. He was probably spending the week playing Civilization VI against his brother.

  • A year ago, I was bored playing Super Mario Odyssey. Yesterday, I tried playing New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe again and got bored 1 level in.

tagged as lists | permalink | 0 comments

Monday, February 25, 2019

House Anniversary Day

I've been so heads down in work this month that the 15th anniversary of living in Sterling passed without fanfare. I'm pretty sure that I count as a local now.

To mark this occasion, here is an excerpt from my 2004 Home Inspection Report -- the house had been on the market for three months in an age when houses were flipping in a matter of days, so an inspection was key.

The inspector did not test the birdbath. Fifteen years later, it and 2 surrounding dead trees have been removed, maximizing the available space for front yard bowling and/or lawn darts.

The first half of the inspection was not particularly alarming:

The second half was a bit more worrisome, betraying the house's background of having an illegal multi-tenant sublet in the basement. (I design much better multi-tenant architectures).

Your electricity has been incorrectly wired, there's only 1 smoke alarm (broken), and there's no heat in the house, no big deal.

Luckily, the old owners bought a new heat pump that lasted another 4 years, and my dad is an electrical whiz!

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

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

End-of-the-Month Highlights Day

New photos have been added to the Life, 2019 album. Google Photos sucks.

  • Events
    • Tried out Senor Tequila's for dinner on F 2/1 (not bad for Mexican food, but that is 98% of Mexican restaurants).

    • Worked through a minor flu-like cold on S 2/2 while Rebecca held a playdate with her library friends (and a homemade quiche).

    • Had the Jacksons over for dinner on S 2/3 on what happened to be the Super Bowl.

    • Had Ghazaley and Michael over for dinner on F 2/8.

    • Went to Jax's 2nd Birthday Party on S 2/10.

    • Had a family dinner at Cafesano on T 2/12.

    • Visited my parents with Maia on W 2/13.

    • Had a family dinner at Saigon Cafe on F 2/15.

    • Went on another paint date on S 2/16, while Rebecca's parents babysat.

    • Had a snowbound day with Maia on W 2/20 while Rebecca went to the aquatic PT conference.

    • Maia had a playdate with Carolyn and Fiona on F 2/22, followed by a family dinner at The V.

    • Went to a Game Night at the Smiths on S 2/23 for spaghetti and The Mind.

    • Invited the Jacksons and Hannah over for dinner on S 2/24, then failed to get any live stream of the Oscars to appear in the background.

    • Family dinner at O'Faolain's on M 2/25, where Maia made endless circuits of the nearly empty restaurant.

    • My parents came over on W 2/27 for a Maia visit.

    • Caught up with an old friend from FGM, Joe, at Bar Louie for lunch on H 2/28.

  • Projects
    • Became an advance test reader for a yet-be-released book.

    • Worked on a massive proposal all month at work.

  • Consumerism
    • No time for gaming this month!

    • Enjoyed listening to the new Hilltop Hoods album, The Great Expanse.

    • Enjoyed watching Russian Doll, Season One this month.

February's Final Grade: C+, Two straight weeks of work leave little room for other pursuits.

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

 

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