The URI! Zone - 10/2011

Monday, October 03, 2011

Second Anniversary

Today is our second anniversary, and while there is no more cake in the freezer and we won't make it back to Hanalei Bay this year, we are still the coolest people you know.

Perhaps we'll figure out where Brian and Emily are going on their honeymoon in three weeks time and steal their rooms for a much needed break from work and school.

Ray Bradbury: e-books can go to hell
Police: Wife threatened banks to hide money woes
Nestle Purina commercial makes a direct pitch to dogs

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Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Museday Tuesday

As part of this feature, which I started in 2007, I compose a very brief work (under 30 seconds) inspired by a randomly generated title from an online word generator or suggested by a reader. The composition can be for any instrumentation, and could even be a purely synthesized realization that might not be possible to perform in the real world.

I work on the excerpt continuously for an hour and then post whatever I've managed to complete, even if it could be the hit single from Glenn Gould Plays Tatu.


Jouncing: (adj.) moving joltingly, or roughly up and down

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

I wrote this one with no particular instrumentation in mind, but it could probably be easily adapted for a small jazz combo with a full set of chromatically tuned timpani.

Theater professor's Firefly poster declared threatening
Modern Warfare 3's Pepsi Cross Promotion Steps Over the Line
Bob Cassilly killed in bulldozer accident at 'Cementland'

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Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Stuff in My Drawers Day: Letters of Chastisement

This is quite possibly the most scathing letter I have ever written.

Spring 1999 was a tight time for music majors at Virginia Tech, because one of the standard piano accompanists had just had a baby and another was only taking half of the usual performers. To meet the mandatory performance requirement, I decided to jump ahead of the pack by performing early and employing the services of a new pianist who had just arrived in Blacksburg.

After the first rehearsal, it was apparent that we were not well matched, as she was expecting a vocal accompaniment of the recitative variety, where she could pound out a whole note chord while some soprano tried to emulate the vocal arc of a drunk butterfly. Instead, she got the first movement of the Halsey-Stevens trumpet sonata, which switches meters more often than the National Geodetic Survey, and treats downbeats as general suggestions. She insisted that she could soldier through though, and promised to improve by the time of the performance.

Two additional (oft-rescheduled) rehearsals didn't give me much more confidence, but I reasoned that I could just use the standard "well, I'm not really a performance major" excuse should it turn out poorly. On the day of the Convocation, she arrived at the Recital Salon in tears, moments before we were scheduled to play. It was obvious that some great personal tragedy had befallen her, and after a quick check with the everpresent-backstage Jim Glazebrook, we agreed to postpone the performance to the following week.

The problem with this strategy was that she didn't show up the following week, and didn't answer any phone calls. After I finally went to her home to make sure a refrigerator had not fallen on her, she told me that she would no longer be able to perform with me, closing with a request for the money owed on three hour-long rehearsals.

And when I finally got the piano score back, I found that she had scratched out every note under a tie to the point where pencil markings outnumbered the original notes, rendering it useless for any future performances.

Super Small: Top 20 Microscope Photos of the Year
More beers, fewer brawls at Oktoberfest
MP's wife guilty of stealing lover's kitten

tagged as memories | permalink | 3 comments

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Review Day

There are no spoilers in these reviews.

UML Distilled by Martin Fowler:
Unified Modeling Language is the specification that allows you to model your complex code designs through diagrams, for the illiterate in your audience. The full specification is heavier than I am, but Fowler successfully pares it down in this book to 200 pages of "the parts he finds most useful". This is more than sufficient for an overview, and his perspectives are very sensible. Fowler sees the power of UML as way to relate a design through whiteboard diagrams, and not as a rigid blueprint for generating code, and his successful distillation makes a dry topic pretty bearable.

Final Grade: B

Koop Islands by Koop:
This is one of those weird jazz CDs that's part nightclub combo and part dinner music, but it's effective and enjoyable to listen to. I first heard the song, Koop Island Blues on Pandora.

Final Grade: B

Deathspank:
I picked up this bargain bin indie action RPG because of the design participation of Ron Gilbert, the creator of the Monkey Island series. It mixes Diablo-style action with humorous dialogue trees and a minimum of puzzle-solving, and seemed like it'd be worth a playthrough. The base action of fighting monsters and gaining loot are pretty standard (and mildly boring), and what sets the game apart is the Monkey Islandesque humor when talking to characters in the game. Unfortunately, funny dialogue isn't as effective as it was when I was 12. I think that the problem I have with this game (and other funny-dialogue games like the new Sam and Max episodes) is that I read too fast. The dialogue isn't as funny when I've already read it before the characters actually speak, and I'm too impatient to sit through a bunch of voice acting with or without the text appearing onscreen. I played this game for about four hours total and then drifted back to replay Portal 2 again.

Final Grade: C-

The Corner by David Simon and Edward Burns:
This nonfiction book about urban problems in Baltimore doesn't directly drive the plot of The Wire, but all of the components that make The Wire a successful show can be seen germinating here. At times, the book feels like Les Miserables set in Baltimore, as the authors focus on a few sympathetic characters against a backdrop of many faces, occasionally interjecting diatribes about the state of society that run on for a few pages before returning to the characters.

It is also like Les Mis by virtue of the fact that it's about 20% too long. It's definitely worth reading and makes a compelling case, but white guilt fatigue will set in fairly early on, making the remaining 500 pages a grim chore to slog through. It could have used a bit more time in the editing room, both to make the narrative tighter and to correct the noticeable level of misspellings and grammar issues.

Final Grade: B-

Swiss speedster trapped by his own mobile phone
Qualify first, drink later: Advocaat tells Russia
U.S military to field-test "throwable" robots in Afghanistan

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Friday, October 07, 2011

Friday Fragments

a beacon of impartial news reporting

♠ I've been doing more cooking recently to increase my portfolio of low effort meals. Recently, I've made easy cheesy peasy chicken, and pasta with shrimp and diced tomatoes. On Monday night we had Cornish Game Hens, which we garnished with Sodium, Midnight Peppercorns, and pretensions.

♠ I don't think that the name "Cornish Game Hens" really makes them feel any fancier than they actually are. I'd be just as likely to buy them if they were called "chicken midgets" (but less so as "small children of chicken").

♠ Speaking of chicken, the Classic Banquet Chicken Dinner now only contains a thigh and no drumstick. Having consumed over five thousand of these in my youth, I was shocked to discover this reduction last week while stealing food from my parents' freezer. Not that the food was ever that appetizing to begin with, but at least pretend that you aren't ripping off the buyer.

♠ Among other rip-offs is black toner, which is now running at $60 for my old 2002 HP LaserJet printer. Apparently the toner has been discontinued to sell more printers, so it's probably going to be cheaper to just buy a new printer the next time it runs out.

♠ I have only owned 2 non-photo printers since I went away for college, both of them LaserJets. In the olden days, we were on the cutting edge of laser printing technology, making me the only 8th grader with professional-looking reports.

♠ I actually have plenty of free time this weekend, as the only plans set in stone involve Beer Club on Saturday night. Since Mike (of Mike and Chompy) no longer lives in the same time zone, we are relieved from the obligation of celebrating his birthday on Sunday, until the time comes when he realizes his error and moves back.

♠ Have a great weekend!

Crazy ants invading Gulf Coast
Steve Jobs Funeral To Be Picketed By Westboro Church
Fashion designer makes clothes from milk

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Museday Tuesday

As part of this feature, which I started in 2007, I compose a very brief work (under 30 seconds) inspired by a randomly generated title from an online word generator or suggested by a reader. The composition can be for any instrumentation, and could even be a purely synthesized realization that might not be possible to perform in the real world.

I work on the excerpt continuously for an hour and then post whatever I've managed to complete, even if it could be the hit single from Glenn Gould Plays Tatu.


Scurfy : (adj.) Resembling, producing, or covered in a flaky or scaly substance

My Composition (0:28 MP3)

I decided to change tack this week and stay away from the woodwind and brass samples, sticking only with patches that were obviously popular in the 80s.

Divers left behind by charter boat
Beetles die during bottle sex
A few million monkeys recreate the works of Shakespeare

tagged as museday | permalink | 1 comment

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12


5:25 AM: Showered up.

5:36 AM: Booty suggests the brown shoes with the black pants. Booty sucks at fashion.

5:48 AM: Packed up for a trip to the inner city, sometimes called Alexandria.

6:17 AM: The traffic starts earlier on 395 every year.

9:57 AM: The "satellite office" where I worked in my parents' house.

1:14 PM: Driving home from a meeting at IDA, and passing the old DISA building which they still have not managed to rent out yet.

1:49 PM: Someday I will live in a world where The Legwarmers have larger ambitions than performing biweekly at the State Theatre.

2:22 PM: Home in time to eat lunch with Rebecca before she leaves for work. I had rainy-day chickinara soup.

4:01 PM: Working on yet another brief.

5:30 PM: Playing Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes, game of the infinite loading screens.

8:24 PM: Booty would like a fortune cookie.

8:50 PM: Chinese food for dinner!
Police seize weapons from Brad Pitt zombie film
Chocolate lovers have fewer strokes
World of Warcraft adds avenue for legitimate gold-trading

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Review Day

There are no spoilers in these reviews.

The Wire, Season Three:
This season brings the action back from the docks to the inner city, and wraps up several storylines that were started way back in the first season. I enjoyed it more than the second season, and about as much as the first.

Final Grade: B+

The Wire, Season Four:
The most impressive thing about season four is how many young actors they managed to find that both look and act like eighth graders -- usually there's either a Glee/Breakfast Club syndrome, or you get a bunch of youngsters who can't act at all. Season Four tackles the Baltimore public school system, and is the closest spiritual comparator to the book, The Corner. The same body of main characters is generally present, although some of the originals are allowed to fade into the background in a natural way to make room for the new ones.

Final Grade: A

Code Complete by Steve McConnell:
I purchased this book directly out of school, probably after reading it on a list of "books you must put on your shelf to make it look like you are truly a software engineer". I then cracked the cover, waded through the initial chapters on project requirements and design and permanently lost interest. A decade later, I'm reading it the way it should be read -- a couple sections at a time like a Tips n' Tricks book rather than a narrative -- and finding it much more insightful. The book is still far too long-winded, and the theoretical sections can kind of drag, but skipping ahead to the practical parts definitely makes this worth a read.

Skip the Kindle edition though -- 900 pages of text translates into 40,000 pages of e-ink, and the formatting is cluttered to the point where the bibliographies and "key point" icons are squished into the text, meaning that you can barely fit a single coherent thought on any given page before jumping to the next one.

Final Grade: B

Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes:
I tend to like games that merge strategy with turn-based puzzles, and at $15 on Steam, I decided to give this one a shot. It has an annoying anime art style with an awful anime plot, and instantly forgettable orchestral music, all of which I generally expect from this genre. Gameplay is Bejeweled-esque, as you match army units into groups of 3 to charge them up and attack the enemy forces.

Unfortunately, unlike every other color-based puzzle game I've ever played, the developers of this one managed to select all of the colors that are impossible for a colorblind person to differentiate. It'd be manageable if the units were red, yellow, and blue, but they seem to be shades of orange, sea green, and teal-blue. In addition, entire game pieces aren't colored -- instead, the colors manifest themselves in tiny stripes, or helmet plumes. After I failed the third puzzle a second time because I couldn't compare the brown smear on the bear's ass with the orange tat on the front of the magic elk, I realized that this was not a game I would excel at. My final quibble is that it's a direct console port, so you spend more time waiting at a loading screen than playing the game.

Final Grade: C-, F for the visually handicapped

Family lost in corn maze calls 911 for help
Seattle superhero arrested in pepper spray incident
Stevey's Google Platforms Rant

tagged as reviews | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, October 14, 2011

Vocabulary Friday

I'm up to my preferred height in preparing briefings this week, so I did not have time to write a Fragments column last night. Here is a recent game of Scrabble instead.

Stop, Or I'll Tweet! Cops Struggle With Social Media
Sex forum canceled for lack of interest
Marathon man undone by bus trip

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Recipe Day: Pub Burgers

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • Kaiser buns
  • Swiss Cheese

Instructions

  • Heat oil over medium-low heat, and brown the ground beef. Drain excess fat.
  • Thoroughly mix ground beef, ketchup, mustard, and brown sugar in a slow cooker. Cook on low for 4.5 - 5 hours.
  • Place cheese on buns and toast.
  • Scoop beef into buns. The consistency will be like a tidy Sloppy Joe. Garnish with extras like onions, if desired.
  • Serve with Guinness and some suitably pubbish side dishes.
What happened to downtime?
Gilbert school calls slogan on breast-cancer T-shirts inappropriate
Boy caught driving armed and towing dead donkey

tagged as recipes | permalink | 1 comment

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Museday Tuesday

As part of this feature, which I started in 2007, I compose a very brief work (under 30 seconds) inspired by a randomly generated title from an online word generator or suggested by a reader. The composition can be for any instrumentation, and could even be a purely synthesized realization that might not be possible to perform in the real world.

I work on the excerpt continuously for an hour and then post whatever I've managed to complete, even if it could be the hit single from Glenn Gould Plays Tatu.


Slouchy: (adj.) Having a drooping or careless posture

My Composition (0:27 MP3)

I was not very inspired by this random word, and it took a good bit of time dicking around with diminished chords to start writing anything. I started with the recorder and the sitar, and moved on to the bass trombone, which is definitely a fairly slouchy instrument.

Prosecutors decide not to charge Phoenix Jones
Thai city offers bounty for fugitive crocodiles
Cain Proposes Electrified Border Fence

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Memory Day: Snapshots

When I was a child, I never received any Christmas presents. My sister got them all. Life was horribly unfair, as was the creator of that carpet.

Wrold's most relaxing song composed
Amazon sued for revealing actress' age
Theft of Obama teleprompter probed in Virginia

tagged as memories, media | permalink | 1 comment

Thursday, October 20, 2011

No Updates Today

There will be no updates today or tomorrow, because I'll be enjoying an all-day meeting in Columbia, Maryland, followed by exquisite overnight accommodations at the Fort Meade computer lab.

Bored? Why not see what I was up to ten years ago or visit the revitalized blog of Mike (of Mike and Chompy), or watch more shorts of animals being dicks?

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Weekend Wrap-up

This seems to have been a fairly pivotal weekend, one that will generate angular momentum for the ages. I spent Thursday in Columbia, Maryland, where I gave a successful briefing on DDMSence to the DoD Metadata Working Group, had a half rack of ribs at the local TGIFriday's and then worked a midnight to eight shift at Fort Meade supporting another team on their 24/7 exercise.

While I was offline, one of our reader family had a new daughter, and another got engaged. This culminated in the weekend wedding of Emily and Brian, adding one more to the pool of married Brians in the world. Congratulations to all!

On Sunday, we slept in, resting and recuperating for the coming week which will try hard to top the previous one through the birth of triplets (Doobie?), the announcement of a presidential candidacy (Mike?), or the return of $3 lunch deals (Popeyes?).

I have two more midnight shifts this week, so I may need to flake on at least one daily update, but rest assured that I'll be thinking of YOU personally throughout the night if I do.

Feet that washed ashore identified
Marijuana-shaped candy alarms parents
Air Force UFO rules vanish after inquiry

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

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Museday Tuesday

As part of this feature, which I started in 2007, I compose a very brief work (under 30 seconds) inspired by a randomly generated title from an online word generator or suggested by a reader. The composition can be for any instrumentation, and could even be a purely synthesized realization that might not be possible to perform in the real world.

I work on the excerpt continuously for an hour and then post whatever I've managed to complete, even if it could be the hit single from Glenn Gould Plays Tatu.


Felonious: (adj.) wicked; base; villainous

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

I started with a church organ patch here, because sadly, the first thing that came to mind for this random word was a "felonious monk". Such a monk would probably try to play it cool, but not be very successful at it.

MC Hammer announces his own "Deep Search" engine
Supermarkets pressured to snub Schweddy Balls
The Rise of Crime-Sourcing

tagged as museday | permalink | 1 comment

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Weird Search Day

or "how I stumbled upon the URI! Zone"

  • popular trumpet solos played at hockey games
    I would definitely recommend the third movement of the George Antheil trumpet sonata, as the technical prowess needed to perform it will surely land you some puck bunnies.

  • redneck pooper

  • What does an augmented fourth look like?
    I've always imagined an augmented fourth to resemble a full-grown lemur with a lazy eye. This is strange because I do not picture a diminished fifth in the same way, even though the two intervals are enharmonically the same. (A diminished fifth looks more like a hunchback in tights).

  • what gear do i use in my suv to climb mt nebo in arkansas?
    The switchbacks are harried enough that you'll want to stay in first or second gear, although the roads are narrow enough that you'll be off the road and tumbling down the side of the mountain in no time.

  • is urizone safe to use with a history of kidney stones?
    With absolutely no intention of beeping my own horn, reading the URI! Zone next to ANY other work of literature or nonfiction, even something by Stephen Hawking, is bound to set up unfair comparisons, since the sheer loveliness in prose that dominates this website will shatter all literary expectations.

  • is there a cheat to see juno nude wii?
    For starters, I didn't even realize that Juno had been made into a Wii video game, although I hope it stars Rainn Wilson as the protagonist, who jumps around levels hitting people with home-skillets. The cheat code for removing the clothing of all characters in the game is to shake your Wii remote vigorously in the manner first demonstrated by Alec Baldwin.

  • Evan Jones is the proud owner of a Hupmobile

    This search phrase ended up in my archives from my entry on Googlism eight years ago.

    Kathy is a graduate of yo --Googlism

  • free download of Music theory from Zarlino to Schenker: a bibliography and guide #17
    Unfortunately, this music theory tome is much too large to be streamed over the Internet -- you're likely to be flagged for P2P activity if you even try.

  • Two charged with stealing bridge
    Madoff feels safer in prison than in New York
    "Man-flu" is real to a fifth of British women

    tagged as website, searches | permalink | 4 comments

    Thursday, October 27, 2011

    Electable Me

    As a highly patriotic member of my community, I plan on running for Sterling District Supervisor in the upcoming election. Please do your part by printing out my signs and posting them for maximum visibility. Suggested legal spots include: the side of your pet, the bulletin board in the lunch room where your coworker guilts everyone into buying Girl Scout Cookies, some place on the Twitter, or secretly printed on the back cover of the pamphlets from your local Jehovah's Witnesses.



    The success of my campaign depends directly on Department of Justice approval of my proposal to collapse district 701 so it just encompasses my court, because it is much easier to buy the vote of a court than a neighborhood. However, I have full faith in the federal government to recognize a good idea when it sees one.

    Move to Sterling and vote for me!

    TSA Screener Finds Blogger's Vibrator, Orders Her to 'Get Freak On'
    Japan Tsunami Debris Expected on U.S. Shores in 3 Years
    Jury clears Fairfax dog walker in scoop case

    tagged as politics | permalink | 5 comments

    Friday, October 28, 2011

    End-of-the Month Media Day

    New photos have been added to the Life, 2011 album.

    Plans for the weekend involve settling in with the latest Janny Wurts title, Initiate's Trial, just released after a four year wait. It's a nice convenience to wake up on the release date of a book and find it already downloaded on your Kindle, ready to go.

    Have a good weekend!

    Man stuck in kiddie swing
    Man stuck underground in tree trunk
    Dirty, sexy money: people saw sex toys, religious symbols on plastic cash

    tagged as media | permalink | 0 comments

    Monday, October 31, 2011

    Weekend Wrap-up

    Friday

    After work, I cleaned the house (which is part of my normal Friday afternoon routine although it sometimes alternates with mowing the lawn), did some reading, and played some Terraria, which is like a version of Minecraft that's actually finished and bug-free, and has the added bonus of not inducing migraines or prematurely advancing my nearsightedness.

    Saturday

    I was up early to head to my parents' house in Alexandria for an oil change and use of the computer with Firewire for some video editing, so I was a firsthand witness to the premature precipitation barely recognizable as snow, over which most of the local populace peed all over themselves. I spent the afternoon working on Brian & Emily's first dance wedding video (mainly inserting pictures of Booty's face all over the primary cast). In the evening, we had a quick dinner at Moby Dick's House of Kabob (which was tasty, though of questionable gastrointestinal benefit), followed by a trip of average female length to DSW for new physical therapy shoes for Rebecca. We ended with a viewing of Memento, which I hadn't seen since 2005, and which Rebecca ironically no longer remembered at all.

    Sunday

    Sunday was a stress-free day of indoor activities. I puttered about, added some pumpkins to the Stone Band website, and prepared a very easy recipe of grilled pork chops with salsa and a spicy rub (like a massage therapist with a sharp tongue). The pork chops turned out to be so delicious that we consumed all two pounds (except the bones), leaving no leftovers for midweek lunches. Sadly, we also finished The Wire today.

    Happy Halloween!

    Bellingham man severs arm with homemade guillotine
    Feds nab granny in moon rock sting
    Florida pizza workers burned down rival store

    tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 3 comments

     

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