Thursday, October 02, 2014

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe:
This book (based on the web feature of the same name) takes random questions posed by the Internet and attempts to provide answers with real science. I thought a book like this would be right up my alley, but it didn't really work for me. Each silly question gets lost in the number of assumptions required to "do the math" and the result isn't quite as interesting as the original question. I ended up skimming through the pleasant cartoons more than I read the science. Better as a coffee table book than a cover-to-cover book.

Final Grade: B-

South Park: The Stick of Truth:
If you are a fan of South Park, this game is a perfect way to experience being in an actual episode. The game was made with the direct participation of the creators, and the easter eggs and attention to detail are amazing. The gameplay that holds it all together, however, is not quite as interesting -- it's really just a framework that pushes you through the game to see all the funny bits, with poorly explained hotkeys and a minimal translation of the turn-based combat from Paper Mario. There are plenty of funny bits, but I'm not enough of a South Park fan that I wanted to battle yet another Nazi zombie rat to get to the end -- I'm about 7 hours in right now.

Final Grade: A- for fans, C+ for everyone else.

Sons of Anarchy, Season Three:
The third season of this show got bogged down in an unnecessarily convoluted plotline that was essentially the Irish version of "They took my boy!" from LOST. The best and worst part of the season is towards the middle, when the action road trips to Belfast and the show's theme song becomes an awful Irish rock remix featuring every pan flute patch from a General MIDI keyboard, pressed at the exact same time. The season ends well with a return to the original setting, but would have been much more interesting without the Irish diversion.

Final Grade: C+

Life in a Bubble by Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band:
I enjoyed this modern big band CD, although it's much more subdued than Act Your Age. Composition and orchestration are king over improvisation here, and the charts are tight throughout.

Final Grade: B

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Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken 20 years ago, at my 15th Birthday Party. From left to right, you can see Jack, Ben, Kwan, Ada, me, and my love of primary colours. On the table in front of me are bound copies of my recently finished murder mystery, Maverin, free for all of my guests. It was never published, which was a shame, as it probably could have triggered a pre-Internet movie craze like Twilight.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

End-of-the-Month Highlights Day

New photos have been added to the Life, 2014 album.

  • Events
    • Hiked in Riverbend Park and Great Falls on 9/1.

    • Had a successful Beach Week in Kill Devil Hills from 9/6 - 9/13.

    • Turned 35, and am now closer to 40 than 30.

    • Ate dinner with Rebecca's parents on 9/21.

    • Played Gloom with Anna and Ben on 9/27.

  • Projects
    • Worked on more proposals, and also had some long overnighters to support a software deployment.

    • Started an online class in "Usable Security", which is about as soft-skills as it sounds.

    • Arranged a brass quintet tune.

    • Rearranged the office.

  • Consumerism
    • Enjoyed watching Sons of Anarchy's first two seasons and Damages: Season One, and eager to start the third season of Person of Interest this week.

    • Played Hearthstone and South Park: The Stick of Truth.

    • Enjoyed new music from the Scissor Sisters and Caro Emerald, and looking forward to the new Dirt Poor Robins release today.

September's Final Grade: B+

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Weekend Wrap-up

On Friday, I arranged a Civil War song called Tenting Tonight for my dad's brass quintet. I still remember all brass ranges, although it's telling that my Finale music template has a 2002 copyright date in its footer.

On Saturday, Rebecca left town for a beach weekend in Ocean City with her estrogen-equipped friends, while I disassembled the office to clean Booty's inaccessible cat vomit off of the wall behind my giant desk. This was a success and the room no longer smells like a dog.

While the desk was in pieces, I decided to rearrange the room and rebuilt the desk in its mirror shape in the opposite corner. This has multiple benefits:

  • My feet are no longer over a cold vent, while my computer's vent will no longer rapidly overheat because it faces a wall.
  • I am no longer in front of the window, so I'm not in my neighbour's line of sight, and I won't be blinded by the winter sun all season long.
  • The router is 8 feet closer to the center of the house, so more Wifi for all.
  • By getting rid of the hutch over the desk, Booty will never have the opportunity to vomit from above again, and I can buy 50 inch monitors without being constrained by whether they fit under a hutch.
  • I have traditionally composed with my left hand, so switching the music keyboard to the other side might lead to some undiscovered melodies and harmonies.

In the evening, I went to Anna and Ben's and taught them how to play Gloom.

Nothing happened on Sunday besides some useless online lectures and some Hearthstone. How was your weekend?

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