Posts from 08/2023

Wednesday, August 02, 2023

New Edition Day

The URI! Zone turns 27 years old this month, which is how old I was when I met Rebecca. Here's what I looked like at 27:

And here's what the website looks like at the same age. Clearly, one of us wears 27 better than the other:

By the numbers, here's what the URI! Zone looks like today:

  • over 197,000 unique visitors since 2003
  • 4876 blog posts since 2001
  • 9285 comments from 153 unique visitors since 2003
  • 9761 images, MP3s, and other files, totaling 526 megabytes
  • over $4550 spent on web hosting since 2003

The URI! Zone will persist for years to come. I'm already saving mad dollar bills with 3-year purchases of cloud servers, so at a minimum, I'll have to be around through 2025 to recoup my investment. I do want to give the whole site a makeover at some point. I've liked the road sign motif enough to keep it around for over 13 years, but maybe it's time for something more modern? Bitcoins and Prime Trucks? Nanobots and Teslas?

The makeover project is slated for sometime next year at the earliest. In the meantime, stick around for the endless deluge of cute kid pics and reviews!

Thank you for your continued friendship and readership!

tagged as website | permalink | 4 comments
day in history

Friday, August 04, 2023

Review Day: A Drowned Kingdom by P.L. Stuart

There are no major spoilers in this review.

A Drowned Kingdom by P.L. Stuart, starts an epic, heroic saga spanning dynasties, politics, religions, and continents. The story requires an upfront commitment of patience through an exhaustive bout of worldbuilding, but once the threads start to weave together you'll find yourself inexorably hooked on the intricate plot.

The story is told from the point of view of Othrun, a young prince who once was second in line for the imperialistic kingship of Atalantyx but now finds himself sailing into exile with the last remnant of his subjects. Othrun is a flawed protagonist who isn't necessarily likable, but is an engaging narrator and has plenty of space to grow over the series. (The author plans for a 7-book series and has released the first three books each just a year apart).

The prologue opens with Othrun in shock after a great catastrophe has destroyed the kingdom of Atalantyx. I found it a very daring choice that the author then spends the first third of the book going back in time to explain the inner workings of Atalantyx -- detailed lineages of the king's family, lengthy histories of colonies claimed and conquered by seafaring armies, and the geography of towns and land holdings. This decision mostly works, as it reinforces what Othrun has lost and offers a palette of vignettes that inform how the characters interact going forward. There's a little too much repetition in parts of this section, which I suppose is better than dropping an important clue just once and hoping it gets noticed.

The plot gains momentum in the book's second part (of three). Othrun brings his people to Acremia, a continent that has never been conquered by the Atalanteans. His views of Atalantyx as the greatest civilization of all time are constantly challenged as he meets and befriends allies he initially dismisses as heathens and savages. Every step Othrun takes to protect his people is hampered by logistic, political, or religious complications based on his own upbringing or ignorance. By the final pages of the book, I was very impressed with how many layers the author had managed to introduce -- this payoff was partly due to the weighty worldbuilding in part one.

Drowned Kingdom is a solid success as P.L. Stuart's debut novel. You might enjoy it if you like reading about geopolitical conflict, constantly challenged assumptions, or the intersection of religion and magic. The book ends at a temporary stopping point in the action, so it will be unsatisfying as a standalone read. The climax to this chunk of the story doesn't present itself until the end of Book 2. (I started Book 2 immediately and found that the two of them together worked best as a unified duology).

Final Grade: B

tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments
day in history

Monday, August 07, 2023

Recipe Day: Baked Party Wings

Time

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 1/2 bag of frozen chicken wings (still connected wings will cook better, but pre-separated is fine)
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • garlic powder
  • smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Thaw wings in advance and pat dry with paper towels. Bring wings up to room temperature before preparing to keep butter from congealing later.
  2. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking tray with foil and place a drip rack on it.
  3. Melt a stick of butter in a small pot on the stove. Roll each wing in butter and place on the drip rack.
  4. Season each wing with salt, pepper, garlic, and paprika then flip over. Optionally spoon additional melted butter on the unseasoned side if your heart likes to live dangerously. Then, add more seasoning.
  5. Bake in oven for 30 minutes at 400F. Then, reduce temperature to 175F and bake for another 30 minutes. (Wings can be eaten at the halfway point, but the extra 30 minutes gives a good balance of crispy outside and juicy inside).

tagged as recipes | permalink | 0 comments
day in history

Wednesday, August 09, 2023

BD Cartoon Day, Part VI

a selection of original cartoons from the business development Slack channel I maintain at work

Other posts in this series: Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI | Part VII

permalink | 1 comment
day in history

Friday, August 11, 2023

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Lincoln Lawyer Season One:
This is a shallow, entertaining lawyer show that doesn't really add up to much by the end. It sometimes feels like a really weak channeling of Bosch with fewer cops. I had it on in the background while I did 5 hours of organizing around the house, and it was perfect for that purpose. On Netflix.

Final Grade: B-

Black Mirror, Season Six:
This five-episode season is very good but also very different from previous seasons. The focus on near-future dystopia and technology has lessened (maybe because the present has already become so grim) in favor of a more Twilight Zone tone with different anthology themes. On Netflix.

Final Grade: B

Trench by Twenty-One Pilots:
This album sounds simultaneously muddy and minimalist, without many hooks to keep interest. It's not as good as Blurryface.

Final Grade: C

Tiny Tina's Wonderlands (PC):
This reskinning of Borderlands as a D&D adventure tries to channel the success of the Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep expansion from Borderlands 2. The tone and voice acting (involving Ashly Burch, Andy Samberg, and Wanda Sykes) is great, but the basic gameplay never really grabbed me. I gave it a couple shots but dropped it after about an hour of playtime.

Final Grade: Not Rated

tagged as reviews, games | permalink | 0 comments
day in history

Monday, August 14, 2023

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

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

8:44 AM: Showered and ready for the day.
9:00 AM: Bagel for breakfast, minus 1/2 requested by the kids.
9:53 AM: Sick day on the couch.
10:54 AM: View from my sick berth.
12:22 PM: Marble madness.
2:29 PM: Playing some Diablo 4.
4:31 PM: Not sure what this game is called.
4:41 PM: Time for Zelda.
6:08 PM: Leftover lasagna for dinner.
6:41 PM: New Cynthia Decker artwork for the kids' bedrooms.
6:44 PM: Bathtime.
7:15 PM: Clean and ready for ice cream.

tagged as 12 of 12 | permalink | 1 comment
day in history

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Memory Day: Twenty-Two Years Ago Today

Twenty-two years ago today, on August 16, 2001, I arrived in Florida to become a music grad student at Florida State.

Fresh off the Amtrak auto-train in Sanford, FL, I first had another 280 miles to drive before reaching Tallahassee. The road trip was about as boring as I-81 to Virginia Tech, although I greatly enjoyed discovering I-10 where speed limits were never enforced and the slowest cars were going 85.

I arrived at Parkwood Apartments (now rebranded with imaginary class as The Edge @ 401) around 2 PM, a quiet cinderblock building that was comparably clean and less damp than other apartments nearby. It was across from a cemetary and just three blocks from the music buildings, at the end of a row of fraternity and sorority houses.

It only took a few trips to move my stuff up from the car, with the biggest hassle being my 17" CRT gaming monitor that weighed about 36 pounds. (My parents drove down the next day with my desk, bed, TV, and dressers, after which we scoured all of Tallahassee for reputable sofa dealers and also purchased the coffee table that's still in my living room today). Here is what the apartment would ultimately look like after the shopping spree:

On that first day, however, the rooms were sparse. My computer was set up on the floor, and I had not yet signed up for a Toast.Net account to get Internet over my 56kb high-speed modem. Instead, I spent the afternoon studying for music school placement exams.

As my undergraduate composition professor, Dr. Polifrone, wrote in my letter of recommendation, "Knowing the weaknesses of our theory and our literature and history programs, it is difficult for me to forecast his level of proficiency in these areas. No doubt Brian will be able to over come any deficient areas he may have." Therefore, I spent my first day in Tallahassee inside, reading Joel Lester's Analytic Approaches to Twentieth-Century Music, in which the author tries to justify getting a music theory degree by retrofitting made-up systems onto freely creative works. (All of my cramming would pay off, as I managed to pass all 4 entrance exams and be absolved of any remedial penalty classes).

For dinner, I walked 2 blocks over to Popeyes, which was super convenient but also surrounded by enough panhandlers that I would chose to drive there more often than not in the future. In the evening, I chatted with the Spellerberg sisters (Anna, Emily, and Becca) on AIM and then capped off the day with some Diablo 2.

tagged as memories | permalink | 3 comments
day in history

Friday, August 18, 2023

Review Day: The Last of the Atalanteans by P.L. Stuart

There are no major spoilers in this review.

Although The Last of the Atalanteans by P.L. Stuart is the second book in The Drowned Kingdom saga, it feels more like a continuation of the story arc begun in Book 1 than a brand new adventure. The action and tension are immediate and burgeoning, with no lengthy worldbuilding interludes and little respite until this book's slower, satisfying conclusion.

With the exception of one point-of-view shift, the story continues to be told from the perspective of Othrun, the exiled leader of a fallen civilization who has gained surprising notoriety on the new continent of Acremia. Othrun begins this book in disguise, on a covert mission to save the kingship of one of his new Eltnian allies. As the band of warriors with Othrun crosses hostile territory to reach the capital city of Lynchun, shifting alliances and feudal greed threaten the fragility of their plans.

Book 2 does a much better job of mixing in worldbuilding without interrupting the momentum of the story. We learn more about the history between Lynchun and Carthlughe, the dynamics of power between female mages and the royal families in each kingdom, and gentle hints about potential allies and enemies in the 10 kingdoms to the south (hints which aren't fully explored until Book 3). There are so many political, personal, and religious motivations at play throughout the book and the author is able to convey the complicated fabric in a manner that kept me enthralled.

The Last of the Atalanteans is a strong finish to the plot that began in A Drowned Kingdom. This pair of books is an excellent duology on its own, and also made me eager to continue on with the series (Book 3 was published in May 2023).

Final Grade: B+

tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments
day in history

Monday, August 21, 2023

New Computer Day

I purchased myself a new desktop computer as an early 44th birthday present. The previous one lasted a whopping seven years, which is a record for my computers. However, in the last 12 months, it had been plagued with power issues that would prevent it from turning back on after power outages unless I physically moved it and plugged it into a different outlet first.

Here are the machine specs, since I always forget these several years into ownership and have to dig all over to rediscover them:

  • Dell XPS 9860
  • i7-13700 CPU (16-Core, 24MB Cache, 2.1 - 5.1 GHz)
  • 16GB DD5 (2x8GB) at 4800MHz
  • 512 GB SSD (plus a 512 GB SSD for games and a 1 TB SSD for backups transferred from the old computer)
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 12 GB
  • A license for Office 2021 (finally retiring my multi-license for Office 2010)
  • 750W Power Supply

The innards of the PC feature the cleanest cable management I've ever seen. My last PC was so full of giant, thick power wires that they exploded outward like a stomach-incubating alien every time I took the cover off.

Getting rid of bloatware like McAfee and disabling all of the Windows 11 telemetry was my first step, and it went surprisingly easily. Windows 11 continues the extended tradition of being a worse version of Windows 7 that hides settings in weird places and tries to convince you that you should be using a Microsoft Surface as your PC. For example, you can no longer create a grid of shortcuts in your Start Menu (it's just a single line flow that wraps at the edge), and the bottom 33% is reserved for ads even after you turn the ads off. The right-click context menu hides important commands like Delete and Rename under a "Show More Options" keystroke (this can only be reverted with a Registry Edit). They've also taken the titles off open apps on the taskbar so it's just a sea of icons -- this is awful for productivity but apparently this setting (which was around in Windows 10) is being restored soon.

For the first time ever, I did not reinstall Finale or Adobe Audition but maybe I'll get back to all of that music business some day far in the future.

And games? I can get a rock-solid 120 FPS at 144MHz in Diablo 4 with all settings maxed. There's a brief moment in the beginning where the fans whirl like an incoming tsunami, but the card handles the rest of the play session in a cool and collected manner.

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

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Memory Day: Bedroom Painting

This is the E. Near painting that hung over my parents' bed since the late 1970s. With direct lighting, it actually looks moderately vibrant, but on the wall, it's a murk of faded, gloomy colors.

My parents gave me this painting (and other similar ones) as "starter art" when I first moved into my house in Sterling back in 2004. Over the years, they've gradually been replaced with art I actually like. This one was replaced with Sitting Tree last June and has been boxed up in the closet ever since. No one in the family seemed to want it for nostalgia's sake but Evil Mike snapped it up when I posted about it on Facebook so he is the proud new owner.

Here's a picture of the family under the painting in the early 80s:

And here's a sketch I did of the painting around 1991 when I was taking art classes at the Torpedo Factory and pursuing hopeless dreams of becoming an artist:

tagged as memories | permalink | 2 comments
day in history

Friday, August 25, 2023

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Scaled and Icy by twenty-one pilots:
A surprisingly fun and poppy album that's way better than Trench although a little on the short side. Shy Away is a good, representative track from this album.

Final Grade: B+

Silo, Season One:
This is an excellent adaptation of Hugh Howey's book, Wool. It doesn't follow the story exactly, but for the first time ever while watching an adaptation, I felt like every single creative change served to make the story even better on TV. On AppleTV+.

Final Grade: A+

Ted Lasso, Season One:
This warm-hearted comedy is about an American football coach hired to coach a weak UK football team despite knowing nothing about soccer. The mix of characters and individual character arcs are well-done. On AppleTV+.

Final Grade: B+

Mythic Quest, Season One:
I loved this show about a game company building a World of Warcraft-like MMO. The gaming bits are spot on, but the show also works well in the dysfunctional workplace genre. The quarantine episode, filmed in the first month of the pandemic, was pitch perfect. On AppleTV+.

Final Grade: A

tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments
day in history

Monday, August 28, 2023

Ian Year 2 Month 4 Battle Report

Ian is older!

He's the same age as Maia was when she climbed out of her crib, but he's still content to go to bed in a sleep sack and squirm around the crib like a larvae. We've tried to start his nap a little earlier to align with Maia's back-to-school schedule but he's been more likely to just lie there singing for a couple hours instead of sleeping. He still sleeps through the night, taking an hour to sing himself to sleep and then sleeping for 10 - 11 hours.

In the mornings, he heads straight to the bookshelf to recite books from memory before a breakfast of waffle and sausage. His meals tend to start about 10 minutes after the rest of the family while he gets one more book in. "No, I not ready for dinner yet" is a common refrain.

We all spent a couple weeks sick with COVID this month, but Ian thankfully skipped it. During this time, he spent a lot of the day home with Rebecca, reading books, playing in the basement, and going outside to help water the plants. With Maia back in school and the weather (eventually) cooling, hopefully he can get back in a routine of forest walks and library visits until preschool starts (3 mornings a week in September).

Music and reading are his primary favourite activities. If he could get to you read every book, he would. If you sing a song, he'll study your mouth so he can learn the words and constantly ask, "What else?" to elicit additional lyrics. He learned Senor Don Gato in about 4 days and now says "That was Senner Dungata" after banging out a percussive interlude on the electronic keyboard.

He likes watching the rare episode of Bluey and is currently into the Hulu series on National Parks.

Other things he says: "This food is good!" "No thank you!" "Otay!". He exclaims, "Ya ha ha, you found me!" when watching me play Zelda and finding a hidden Korok, and "Messy time!" when watching Maia play Mario Kart and getting squirted with octopus ink.

tagged as offspring, day-to-day | permalink | 1 comment
day in history

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

End-of-the-Month Highlights Day

New photos have been added to the Life, 2023 album.

  • Events
    • Solo dad dinner at Local Provisions on W 8/2.

    • Dinner at my parents' house (spare ribs) on S 8/5.

    • Rebecca and Maia went to Nolan and Julia's birthday party at Hyperkidz on S 8/6.

    • Rebecca and I got sick on H 8/10 with COVID EG.5. Maia got sick on W 8/16.

    • Family visit to Folly Lick Park on S 8/19.

    • Went to Maia's first grade open house on T 8/22.

    • Family dinner at Fire Works Pizza on W 8/23.

    • Maia's first day of first grade (Ms. Meissner) on H 8/24.

    • Rebecca took the kids to visit Jessika on S 8/26.

    • Elizabeth and Sammie visited after church on S 8/27.

    • Family visit to the Kids Under Construction playground followed by dinner at Local's Tacos and Tequila on T 8/29.

    • Ian's KUC preschool Open House on W 8/30.

  • Projects
    • Still learning Spanish with DuoLingo (42 units completed).

    • Rearranged my home office on M 8/14.

  • Consumerism
    • Purchased new Cynthia Decker art for our bedrooms on S 8/12.

    • Got a new desktop machine (Dell XPS Desktop 8960) on H 8/17.

    • Still playing Diablo 4 but reaching the end of its interesting portions.

    • Enjoyed watching Ted Lasso, Mythic Quest, and Severance.

    • No amazing new music, movies, or books this month.

August's Final Grade: C+, always challenging when the family shuts down for a week and a half for sickness

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

 

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 - 2024 by Brian Uri!. Please see the About page for further information.

Jump to Top
Jump to the Front Page


August 2023
SMTWHFS
12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031
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
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