08/2019

Friday, August 02, 2019

New Edition Day

The URI! Zone is 23 years old this month! If it were human, this is the stage when it starts to question its investment in continuing education and wonders whether it made a huge mistake in its chosen area of study, potentially dropping out to become a barista while working on a screenplay. By the numbers, I have written 4247 blog posts which you clowns have commented on 8698 times. There were also over 32,000 attempted spam comments successfully blocked which amazes me more for the fact that link-spamming online pharmacies is still a lucrative business.

There has been absolutely nothing of interest changed under the hood of this website in the past year, other than the fact that I made my resume database-driven so I can continue to earn an infinite number of AWS certs without uploading static files every other week. Blogging in general seems to be on the tail end of the bell curve, soon to be extinct everywhere except here. You can rest assured that updates will continue for at least as long as my AWS 3-year server purchase (April 2022) unless I turn 40 and die from falling out of bed.

Whether you are a regular visitor, just stopping by to search for ear training software cheats, or a lapsed member of the fold returning for your tri-weekly dose of not-necessarily-uninteresting content, thanks for visiting and say hello in the comments section!

tagged as website | permalink | 4 comments

Monday, August 05, 2019

Dark Day

Interested in watching Dark on Netflix but worried that you'll get lost amongst the millions of white actors speaking German? I've created a set of character reminder sheets to guide your watching in a progressive, spoiler-free way.

The intent of these sheets is to provide quick reminders of names and faces, not a dedicated family tree or relationship structure. Characters are only added after their first extended scene or speaking role. You can print a sheet out after you finish each episode, and use that sheet to remind yourself of the characters in the subsequent episode. Enjoy!

Spoiler Warning! There are spoilers from Season One of Dark in these links. Do not look at them until you have finished the specified episode.

  1. Characters after S1E01: Secrets
  2. Characters after S1E02: Lies
  3. Characters after S1E03: Past and Present
  4. Characters after S1E04: Double Lives
  5. Characters after S1E05: Truths
  6. Characters after S1E06: Sic Mundus Creatus Est
  7. Characters after S1E07: Crossroads
  8. Characters after S1E08: As You Sow, so You Shall Reap
  9. Characters after S1E09: Everything is Now
  10. Characters after S1E10: Alpha and Omega

Spoiler Warning! There are spoilers from Season Two of Dark in these links. Do not look at them until you have finished the specified episode.

  1. Characters after S2E01: Beginnings and Endings
  2. Characters after S2E02: Dark Matter
  3. Characters after S2E03: Ghosts
  4. Characters after S2E04: The Travelers
  5. Characters after S2E05: Lost and Found
  6. Characters after S2E06: An Endless Cycle
  7. Characters after S2E07: The White Devil
  8. Characters after S2E08: Endings and Beginnings

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Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Maia Battle Report: Year 2 Month 1

Maia is still alive!

She enjoys wearing dresses and dancing for delicious foods like mac and cheese or pancakes. She has started embracing pretending games, and will utilize each tool in her animal clinic toy set appropriately ("Maia works at animal clinic. Mommy works at people clinic"). One day, we must have spent 20 minutes pretending to be asleep in bed then waking up.

While packing for our trip to Pennsylvania, she pulled Rebecca's rolling suitcase and said "Just like bunny", in reference to a cartoon of a bunny pulling a suitcase for a vacation, a card that had been out of sight for at least 3 weeks. She also knows all sorts of trivia ("Amber is a calico", "Daddy drives fast", and "Daddy farts") and remains a puzzle whiz.

Her attention span is getting longer and the occasional tantrum can be much fiercer, but they never last very long before she moves on from disappointment. She doesn't like brushing her teeth, but we've gotten her more into the habit by reminding her that Dr. Bearson of the Berenstain Bears universe would want her to.

We went to the mall for the first time in 3 months last week when it was too hot to move. The only difference from before is that she insisted on walking everywhere instead of sitting in the stroller. She loves the mall now solely because we get 1 Popeyes buttermilk biscuit, which she eats in its entirety.

She still has not had any dedicated screen time, and is bored by most of the harmless shows we might put on in the background. On Monday nights, we let her stay up to watch the first couple athletes on American Ninja Warrior, but she's really more interested when they fall off ("Splash!").

Coming up in the fall, she'll spend a couple hours per week in a "Twos" class at the community center. Rebecca will use that extra time to take some naps and I will do some continuing education in making ponytails.

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

Friday, August 09, 2019

List Day: Top Five Pet Peeves of the Moment

It's been over 9 years since I last talked about the things that annoy me!

  1. Recipe Stories: Every recipe on the Internet now opens with a 6 page testimonial to the efficacy of the ingredients and the reasons why the cook likes smoothies. I understand that this has to be done because Google penalizes bare-bones recipe pages as "lacking original content" but it doesn't make it any less obnoxious. At the very least, give me a link at the top that says "click here to skip the BBC miniseries about how I invented this recipe in my meditation room".

  2. Subreddit Devolution: I've lurked on Reddit for over 4 years now, mainly to read other peoples' responses to threads full of creepy stories or unique experiences. It annoys me when areas of this site (called subreddits) pertain to something I'm actually interested in reading about but have devolved into a bunch of teenagers posting low effort memes only tangentially related to the topic. I visit /r/GrimDawn to discover interesting strategies for playing Grim Dawn, not wade through 800 animated GIFs showing "my reaction when" something inane happens in the game. The only thing worse than a poorly moderated subreddit full of memes is one full of fan art. NO ONE CARES THAT YOU DREW HARRY POTTER ON A NAPKIN.

  3. Safeway Sales: Our local Safeway is effectively demonstrating the laws of entropy by rapidly out-Bottom-Dollaring Bottom Dollar. The salmon is always expired, the produce may have been stolen from last month's farmer's market, and the sale tags are consistently outdated. There is only a 26% chance that that "Buy One Get One Free" tag will actually register correctly at checkout, so trying to save money there is the most dangerous game. As you skim your incorrect receipt on the way to the door, you have to weigh the value of the $3 you lost to the 15 minutes it will take for anyone to actually come to the customer service desk to help you.

  4. Early Morning Commuting: I commute down the 2-lane portion of Route 7 to Tysons, a route made bearable by the fact that I leave at 5 AM and only do it a couple times per week. For the most part, it's actually somewhat pleasant because every single person on the road is committed to getting to DC as quickly as possible. You can feel the teamwork and solidarity as a massive caravan of paper pushers accelerates off the red light to a steady 70 in unison. Of course, this rolling wave of efficient travel usually bottlenecks behind the only 2 people on the road without somewhere important to be driving 50 miles per hour. Although my methodology is not scientific, I can state with 100% confidence that one of the people will be driving a rusted pickup truck with West Virginia tags, and the other will be a hypermiling Prius (silver or white only).

  5. Gas Station Kiosks: Pumping gas has a 10 second overhead from all of the questions you have to answer about unwanted car washes and rewards card memberships. Although the endless loops of Jimmy Kimmel clips and Progressive ads no longer bother me (pro tip: hit all of the buttons on the right side of the screen and you will find one that mutes the kiosk), gassing up is still not a pleasant experience. I never have a chance to clean the bird crap off my windows because there's never a working squeegee and the squeegee water always smells like a bird died in it.

What's annoying you today?

tagged as lists | permalink | 1 comment

Monday, August 12, 2019

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

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

6:30 AM: Showered and ready for the day.
6:47 AM: Bagel for breakfast.
7:04 AM: Arriving in the home office.
9:23 AM: Good morning!
9:24 AM: Maia wanted to take a picture of us.
10:28 AM: Home from Costco with the needs of the household.
11:47 AM: Playdate with Aunt Sena and Nolan.
3:19 PM: Running on the treadmill and watching the poorly named Money Heist.
6:12 PM: Family dinner at The V.
6:45 PM: Watering the plants.
6:58 PM: Ice cream dance! Also, she is wearing Minnie Pants because "Minnie Pants match Watermelon".
7:03 PM: Rewarded with chocolate ice cream.

tagged as 12 of 12 | permalink | 1 comment

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken 24 years ago, in August 1995.

As drum major of the elite T.C. Williams Marching Titans, I was selflessly leading the band on a Chinquapin practice field that required a 20 minute round trip march to get to. We actually had lines on the field this particular day, a rarity.

I'm standing with Josh, alto sax, and Mike, trumpet. Though band members are not necessarily paragons of style, you can tell that primary colors and khakis were the word of the day in 1995. I also continued my streak of wearing clothes and glasses that were too big for me because finding the right size while straddling the line between Boys and Mens clothing took up time that could be better spent playing video games.

tagged as memories | permalink | 0 comments

Friday, August 16, 2019

List Day: 9 Recent Accomplishments

  1. Finally realized that I could mute the microwave, only 2 years after it would have been useful to avoid baby sleeping disturbances.

  2. Hit 225 hours of play time in Grim Dawn, with only one character higher than level 30.

  3. Perfected a recipe for broiled shrimp that takes less than ten minutes from freezer to devouring.

  4. Finally crossed over the 48,000 miles mark in my 2012 Accord.

  5. Got Rebecca and several of our friends hooked on watching Dark, using my spoiler-free reference sheets.

  6. Destroyed an entire colony of invasive fruit flies (no doubt originating from Rebecca's farmer's markets and other unnecessarily healthy produce) with homemade red wine vinegar traps.

  7. Booked our 10th Anniversary Weekend trip to Montreal (Maia at home with the grandparents).

  8. Got approval at work to pilot a series of newsletters where I write about tech in a way that people can understand.

  9. Finished adding all six short stories to the Wars of Light and Shadow Wiki.

What have you been up to?

tagged as lists | permalink | 2 comments

Monday, August 19, 2019

Weekend Wrap-up

On Friday morning we drove to Fredericksburg to visit the Ahlbins and exceeded all previous records for the trip, taking 3.5 hours from driveway-to-driveway.

Maia ate lollipops with Felicity.

She also resolved to get better at Guitar Hero than Vegas Mike.

Maia had her first experience climbing up a bunk bed and announced that "Sister Bear sleeps in the top bunk, Brother Bear sleeps on the bottom, and Brother Bear eats honey in bed".

On Saturday afternoon, I spun up an impromptu Dungeons and Dragons game for the kids, where they had to invade the castle of Neightwang to get his treasure.

On Saturday evening, we visited the Hickses for dinner and Maia got to hang out with their granddaughter, Autumn.

On Sunday, Rebecca played Castles of Burgundy with the older kids and Anna, easily one of the most tediously-paced games of all time.

How was your weekend?

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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken 36 years ago, in August 1983.

I was one month shy of turning 4 years old, and playing in the sand at Calvert Cliffs State Park. The beach here is a 1.8-mile hike from the parking lot, a trek that usually started with the kids running all the way and ended with one of us on my dad's shoulders on the way back. The beach was unassuming, with a bit too much gravelly sand to dig any amazing holes, but this was balanced out by the unusually high number of shark's teeth that would surface on each visit. I wore one particularly large one on a necklace for many years!

tagged as memories | permalink | 0 comments

Friday, August 23, 2019

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal by Nick Bilton:
I picked up this book because I still don't understand how Twitter can be such a valuable service. I was vindicated since it seems like people who run it haven't quite figured it out either. This was an entertaining read featuring incredible levels of backstabbing and power plays amongst the original founders of the service. The only downside is that the book only goes up to about 2013, so any more recent successes or failings of Twitter are not covered.

Final Grade: B

Money Heist, Part One:
I'm guessing the show became "Money Heist" in the US because we have too many "House of" shows to use "House of Paper". This show tells of a band of criminals who break into the mint to print their own money and has kind of a Spanish Prison Break vibe to it. It's passably entertaining in broad strokes, but doesn't sell the logistics of the heist and character motivations quite as well. The subtitles are atrocious too. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B-

Modern Family, S9:
This season was just fine -- it's at its best when not focusing on Cam or the annoying toddler. That said, I think it's about time to push this show out to pasture.

Final Grade: B-

Dark, Season Two:
The second season was riveting, and better than the first. There was less of a need for character reminder cheat sheets this time, but the dialogue-less scenes (which I would normally hate for wasting my time) are still helpful for letting the weight of each scene really sink in. I loved the way the characters evolved such that everyone is sympathetic at one point or another, and everyone really thinks they're on the right side. I especially liked the changes of Katharina and Noah, both of whom were pretty one-dimensional in the first season. There still aren't quite enough answers, but there's only one (already greenlit) season left and it doesn't feel like anything is going to go off the rails. This series is a perfectly paced, brooding thriller that transcends the annoyance of reading subtitles and will have you thinking long after it ends. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: A

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Monday, August 26, 2019

Data Day: Tolls

A breakdown of the $6300 we've blown on EZPass roads since 2006.

tagged as data | permalink | 1 comment

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken 5 years ago, on September 13, 2014.

Life was very different for these young souls (I was just about to turn 35 even though I look like Marvin's Benjamin Button clone in this pic). No one had kids yet and the most difficult task faced each day was finding a space at the beach house's dining room table where everyone was playing Hearthstone.

We have not yet returned to the Outer Banks since 2014 -- short weekend trips within a couple hours of driving have been more our speed with Maia -- but we'll definitely get back there in the future. I need to make sure that Maia is qualified to dig big holes before she starts first grade so she can cash in on gravedigging for all of the Baby Boomers.

tagged as memories | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, August 30, 2019

End-of-the-Month Highlights Day

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

  • Events
    • Family dinner date at Mellow Mushroom on F 8/2.

    • Dad-daughter dinner at The V while Rebecca went to her cousin Luke's wedding at Solomon's Island, on S 8/3.

    • Visited my parents in Alexandria on S 8/4.

    • Family dinner at Bungalow Lakehouse on M 8/5.

    • Visited my parents in Alexandria on W 8/7.

    • Dad-daughter dinner at Miller's on H 8/8.

    • Broiled delicious tenderloin cuts on F 8/9.

    • Went to Patrick Crane's 4th birthday party (with bounce house) on S 8/10.

    • Solo dad dinner at Burton's while Rebecca and Maia visited Jessika on S 8/11.

    • Family dinner at The V on M 8/12.

    • Visited my parents in Alexandria on W 8/14.

    • Went to Fredericksburg to visit the Ahlbins and Hickses on F 8/16 - S 8/18.

    • Maia and I got sick for a few days starting M 8/19.

    • Visited with Ellen and the nephews at my parents' house on W 8/21 and F 8/23.

    • Family dinner at Burton's on S 8/24.

    • Had Car and Ben over for salmon on S 8/25.

    • Family trip to Frying Pan Park on M 8/26.

    • Dad-daughter dinner at The V on T 8/27. (I record all of these dinner outings because I don't know what sort of information will be neat to reminisce about 10 years from now).

    • Family dinner at The Counter in Reston Town Center, followed by fun on the lawn of toddlers there on F 8/30.

    • Rebecca and Maia went to Lake Barcroft on S 8/31.

  • Projects
    • Obliterated our infestation of fruit flies with devious red wine vinegar traps on F 8/2.

    • Started planning for my 40th birthday and 10th anniversary.

  • Consumerism
    • No new amazing shows since Dark but just started the third season of The Good Place.

    • No new music this month -- still listening to e-dubble and others of that ilk.

August's Final Grade: B-, I feel like I haven't stopped running all month -- I'm running as I type this.

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