02/2021

Monday, February 01, 2021

Snow Day

We got a few meager inches of snow on Sunday, enough to shovel and enjoy. Maia watched it fall all through breakfast and then demonstrated her snow angel expertise.

Later, she army crawled across an entire cul de sac for reasons known only to three-year-olds.

We tried sledding down a short hill with a boogie board, but bodysurfing turned out to be much more effective.

"AaaaaaAAAAaaaaAAaaaaAAAAhhh!"

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

Wednesday, February 03, 2021

Pool Table Day

This coming Thursday, the basement pool table will finally be sent away to "live on the farm". Though we rarely actually played pool, it was a faithful backdrop to Halloween parties and barbeques over the past 17 years.

The pool table was delivered and installed on June 9, 2004 by two guys that spent half the year driving around the country building pool tables. I ordered it over the Internet for $1700 after being snubbed in multiple local billiard stores by salesmen who didn't think a 24-year-old could afford a table and refused to go under $5000. (This is like the movie, Pretty Woman, except that I never went back to rub it in and I'm more attractive than Julia Roberts).

Over the past few years, it was mainly a tool to distract children or keep food from falling on the ground. We finally decided to get rid of it to free up more family space in the basement. The pool table light ($240 from a 2004 Yahoo sales page) will remain, albeit cranked up to the ceiling so no tall people hit their heads. Underneath will be the big round table for poker and kid crafts. Surrounding the area will be additional storage space for all of the toys that Maia gets from her grandparents.

tagged as memories | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, February 05, 2021

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Schitt's Creek, Season Six:
The last season of Schitt's Creek goes out on top, with a positive, understated ending. The whole series is worth watching even if the first couple seasons lack momentum. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B+

Mystery Road:
This movie about an aboriginal detective solving a murder in the Australian Outback feels simultaneously familiar and muted. All the beats are there, but there's no intensity or suspense to anything that happens. There are so many dialogue-less driving scenes that I had PTSD flashbacks to Broken Flowers and the whole slog culminates with a shootout full of poorly-planned decisions. It did not make me want to watch the TV series it spawned.

Final Grade: C-

His Dark Materials, Season Two:
Though short, at only 7 episodes, the 2nd season adaptation of the Philip Pullman books is engrossing and worth a watch. It's hard to capture the right tone with the sheer number of witches and talking animals everywhere, but this works more than it doesn't.

Final Grade: B

Fargo, Season Four:
Only one episode (episode 9) feels anything like an episode of the Fargo that we love. The other episodes feel a little like Fargo fan fiction, written by someone who received a list of adjectives like "quirky" and "whimsical" and tried to keep the magic going. The characters are fine and the plot is fine, but the overall package feels like every other mob show that's been done to death over the years. Timothy Olyphant steals every scene he's in by essentially playing Marshal Raylan Givens as a Mormon and the plot eventually peters out like a deflating balloon.

Final Grade: B-

tagged as reviews | permalink | 1 comment

Monday, February 08, 2021

Release Day

2021 is off to a productive start with 2 completed side projects in my portfolio.

First up is a new Janny Wurts - Official Forum that finally replaces the ancient Perl-based forum that ran from 1999 to 2021.

The new forum is based on Discourse and was pretty straightforward to configure. The most challenging part of this move was migrating 17,000 old posts into the new software. These posts weren't in a nice tidy database, but 1,400 separate HTML files which allowed the forum to work without an additional database hosting cost. The company behind the old software actually went out of business in 2012, so I had reverse engineer the data format and write a data pipeline that cleans the old posts and then imports them into the new forum.

The second project is a new Interactive Map of Paravia, the world from the Wars of Light and Shadows book series.

The old map was written with Dreamweaver and used a set of static pages with imagemaps to display the map. I used scripted calls to Imagemagick to slice up a high-resolution copy of the map into tiles and then used Leaflet.js to set it up with modern map controls.

What's next? My final side project before kid #2 comes along in May is a makeover for the website of Janny Wurts' husband, Hugo-award-winning artist, Don Maitz.

tagged as website, programming | permalink | 1 comment

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Memory Day: Snapshots

These pictures were taken thirty years ago, in January 1991.

To fulfill the requirements of the Photography merit badge (which I was working on in parallel with the Safety merit badge and the Coin Collecting merit badge), I had to take a variety of black and white pictures demonstrating different photographic techniques. These two, featuring my 9th grade sister who obviously did not want to be sitting here, demonstrated that it's better to have a light in front of your subject than behind them (this is hard-hitting stuff).

In the background, you can see our original Nintendo as well as the brown accordion folder containing all of the instruction manuals and Nintendo Power strategy guides. In the adjoining room, you can see the exercise bike which I don't think anyone ever actually used.

tagged as memories | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, February 12, 2021

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

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

6:08 AM: Showered and ready for work.
6:19 AM: Bagel for breakfast.
7:25 AM: At work in the basement office.
8:26 AM: Checking in on the breakfast club.
9:25 AM: Someone's recently viewed a Netflix documentary about bird mating rituals.
11:32 AM: First Popeyes since the beginning of the pandemic. (It hit the spot).
12:50 PM: Running on the treadmill and rewatching Fargo, Season Three.
2:40 PM: Gifts in the mail!
3:56 PM: Flexing my PHP skills with a simple content management system that auto-shares to Facebook and Twitter.
4:48 PM: Daily Zelda Hour is getting us through this cold, cold winter.
6:21 PM: Chuy's for dinner.
7:12 PM: Consistently picking the books with the least literary value at bedtime.

tagged as 12 of 12 | permalink | 4 comments

Monday, February 15, 2021

Data Day: Percent Changes Over a Decade (Feb 2011 - Feb 2021)

  • Take Home Income: +24.34%
  • Hours Worked: -%25%

  • Mortgage: No Change
  • Power Bill: +47.44%
  • Internet Bill: +35.03%
  • Water Bill: +80.24%
  • HOA Fees: +46.89%
  • House Insurance: +24.91%
  • Car Insurance: +45.99%
  • URI! Zone Hosting: -11.66% IN THE CLOUD
  • Lunch at Popeyes: +7.8%

  • Number of Hondas: No Change
  • Number of Cats: -50%
  • Number of Kids: +100%
  • Number of Wives: No Change
  • Number of People Going to St. Ives: No Change

tagged as data | permalink | 0 comments

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Time-lapsed Blogography Day: Twenty-Five Years Ago Today

Twenty-five years ago today, on February 17, 1996, I went to James Madison University for my music audition.

I have my JMU audition and we leave at 5:30 am. I don't know why I'm doing this audition because I don't plan on going to JMU.

The trumpet half of the audition went fine although I don't even remember who the Music Composition professor was anymore. One interesting dynamic I do recall is that I would ask him questions about the program and he would mostly answer them to my parents instead of me. This also happened on my college tours at UVA and William & Mary, and was one of many reasons I finally ended up going to Tech -- the faculty at Tech consistently kept the dialogue between me and them rather than answering like I wasn't in the room.

In the evening after we came home, I went over to Jack's house where we watched a Whose Line Is It Anyways? marathon I had recorded off of Comedy Central on two VHS long-running tapes. It was the classic edition hosted by Clive Anderson and featuring names like Ryan Stiles, Colin Mochrie, Tony Slattery, and Mike McShane. Then, I came home so Jack and I could play Warcraft II over the modem until 11 at night.

tagged as memories | permalink | 0 comments

Friday, February 19, 2021

Review Day: A Summoning of Demons by Cate Glass / Carol Berg

There are no major spoilers in this review.

A Conjuring of Assassins is the second book in the Chimera series by Carol Berg, writing under the pen name, Cate Glass. (I also reviewed Book One, An Illusion of Thieves last year). The author delivers a satisfying, self-contained story that can be appreciated on its own, but doesn't push the overall series forward in a significant way.

A Summoning of Demons is the final book in the Chimera trilogy by Carol Berg, writing under the pen name, Cate Glass. (I also reviewed An Illusion of Thieves and A Conjuring of Assassions). I enjoyed every aspect of this book (the pacing, the plot, the author's slyly humorous writing style, and character relationships) except for the fact that it seems to bring the series to a premature conclusion.

The plot kicks off immediately into overdrive, with the Chimera team hired to investigate an unusual marriage contract. The author adds a layer of complexity to the "heist" feeling with the introduction of Donato and Livia, two wonderfully-written supporting characters that constantly force the Chimera team to reassess their biases and plans. The level of danger feels much higher than in previous books as the team's tactics don't always succeed this time around.

The world-building continues to impress, with the Italian Renaissance vibe of Cantagna so well-realized that it's almost an extra character in the story. There are also plenty of answers to lingering lore questions from previous books. This is why I was so greatly disappointed when I reached the final page -- the book's plot is self-contained and wrapped up neatly but I'm left with a huge investment in a world whose greater themes (the evil of sorcery, sorcery versus nature, and the truth behind religion and mythology) are left without enough closure to satisfy me. While there's a lot to be said for leaving the audience wanting more instead of running an idea into the ground, I was nowhere near ready for the story to conclude.

Still, I shouldn't review what ISN'T there -- Perhaps there are reasons outside of the author's control for stopping after three books or maybe her intent was always to conclude by emphasizing the intimate, close-knit bonds of the Chimera team over a grand good versus evil extravaganza. I loved reading this entire trilogy (and many other works by the author) and recommend it completely, even if I'm disappointed that Book Three is the End!

Final Grade: B+

tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments

Monday, February 22, 2021

Quality Control Day

I actually had this problem with the aforementioned wipes, but just presumed that I was using them correctly.

permalink | 0 comments

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Azul:
We purchased this two player game based on our enjoyment of Patchwork. You compete to get tiles and gain points for deploying those tiles in different patterns. It's fun and easy to pick up in spite of the length of the rulebook, but it never really feels like you're in control of your fate. It feels impossible to plan more than a couple moves ahead, and some portions of the gameboard feel useless other than as a holding pen for discarded tiles. We'll try it a few more times to see if it clicks, but it's not our favourite.

Final Grade: C+

The Expanse, Season Five:
The Expanse continues to be a good show, with a good ending and great individual scenes. There are still way too may CGI space shots slowing down the momentum. Season Five splits the main characters into individual stories (possibly related to COVID filming restrictions?) and the strength of each story is uneven. One particular episode featuring one of the actors all alone in space really wore down my patience. Free on Amazon Prime.

Final Grade: B

Animal Crossing: New Horizons:
I was bored by Harvest Moon on N64 and Stardew Valley, so the only reason I bought this game was to have another activity to share with Maia during the cold winter months. This time around though, the problem isn't that I'm bored, the problem is that the game itself is boring. We've played it maybe 5 or 6 times so far and there's so little to do that we eventually just turn it off and do something else. Apparently, everything interesting in the game is behind a real-world time gate, meaning that time has to go by between gaming sessions or you never get to the good stuff. While Maia likes the sound that the NPCs make in the game, this is never a game she wants to watch more of on her own volition. Now, we just play Zelda.

Final Grade: Not Graded

Truth Seekers, Season One:
This is a fun new series from the minds behind the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy. Nick Frost stars as a broadband installer by day who runs a paranormal Youtube channel at night. Though it has a little unsettling horror imagery, it stays squarely on the comedy side of the equation with great guest appearances by Simon Pegg and Malcolm MacDowell. Free on Amazon Prime.

Final Grade: A

tagged as reviews | permalink | 2 comments

Friday, February 26, 2021

End-of-the-Month Highlights Day

New photos have been added to the Life, 2021 album.

  • Events
    • Snow continued to fall gently through T 2/2.

    • Got rid of our pool table on H 2/4.

    • Mask visit to the Smiths on S 2/6.

    • More snow on S 2/7.

    • Rebecca started working Saturday afternoons at the Inova vaccine clinic on S 2/13 during an ice storm.

    • Maia switched to the 2.5 hour pre-pre-school class on W 2/17.

    • My mom got her 2nd vaccine shot on W 2/17.

    • More snow on H 2/18.

    • My dad got his 2nd vaccine shot on S 2/20.

    • Farm visit with the Uri grandparents on T 2/23.

    • Backyard visit with Rebecca's parents on a warm W 2/24.

    • Basement visit with the Smiths on S 2/28.

  • Projects

  • Consumerism
    • Enjoyed watching Vice Principals, Truth Seekers, and Lupin this month.

    • No new music or games this month.

February's Final Grade: B, Cold but moved fast.

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

 

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 - 2021 by Brian Uri!. Please see the About page for further information.

Jump to Top
Jump to the Front Page


February 2021
SMTWHFS
123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28
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
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