The URI! Zone - 08/2001
It's the Sixth Edition of the URI! Domain! Coinciding with my move to Tallahassee, every section has been revitalized with new material. Although you may not see major updates in the coming months, I will try to use this space regularly to post news and messages. The Domain will remain at this web address for the forseeable future, and my FGM email will be the e-mail address I check frequently.
I originally wanted to include more opportunities for user feedback, like BlogVoices-style comments, message boards, and guestbooks, but until I have a direct connection or access to a server with PHP, I can't use anything from my CGI/PHP bag of tricks. In the meantime, send me your thoughts by clicking the mail icon in the upper right corner of this news box. Mail early and often!
Over a hundred visits on the first day, thanks in part to a front page plug at www.battlereports.com (where I rate reports in my spare time). Nedstat is a really good tool for watching site statistics, and I highly recommend it to anyone with a website. Plus, it's free and discrete, with no advertising requirements.
Nothing really new to report today -- I've added a few leftover Cat pictures to the Photos section, and I'm winding up my major projects at work so I can end on August 7 with a clean slate. Then it's a week of cleaning, packing, and miscellaneous gallivanting before I'm off to Tallahassee.
Should I post my news in chronological order, or latest news first? This way is great for regular visitors, but it will probably be a pain for new folk to review later on. Of course, that's assuming there'll be new folk several months from now -- people's visiting habits can become notoriously incestuous over time, until they forget that the Net exists beyond their handful of favourite bookmarks.
News will be in chronological order when it's relegated to the Archive, while the front page will have the latest at the top. Ain't democracy swell?
On another note, I've heard back from a surprisingly large percentage of Net friends that I lost touch with over the past three years. If Microsoft's spam basin, Haltmail, would stop deactivating old accounts, maybe I could find the rest of the old folks too.
I wonder how long I can sustain interesting daily updates before I succumb to the "One-Line Link" syndrome of many blogs I read. For the uninitiated, blog is the abbreviation for weblog, and it's something of a personal online diary that uses special software to make updating a no-brainer. This news page is coded by hand, so technically it's just a faux-blog. Feel free to refer to it as an o-blog, since we live in an age when the word, weblog, is too long for our collective attention spans.
Another weekend is here. Surprisingly, I never get anything done on the weekends, simply because there's too much time for productive work. When I come home from work during the week, I find it easier to compartmentalize my productive time and my slacking time. On the weekend, I just get overwhelmed by the amount of work I could be doing and end up getting less than half of it done. Yet somehow, the deadlines still get met.
For everyone visiting from BR.com, I've started working on a new battle report in a wacky, unique style. Look for it in a month...maybe less.
The report is coming along nicely. Depending on how much time I waste on it, I could ostensibly have it finished in a couple weeks. The execution is an ensured success -- now I just have to make the story behind it worthwhile. It doesn't matter how glitzy your report is; what matters is whether the writing can stand the test of time after the initial "ooh ahh" effect wears off.
If you're a BR.com visitor, look for the new battle report towards the end of this week or the start of next week. Even though I should have spent more time doing useful things this weekend, this was a healthy project. Besides, if I hadn't worked on it so much, I definitely would have been playing games all weekend instead of anything productive. This is the lesser of two evils.
The miscellaneous gallivanting for next weekend is mostly arranged, so I'll be able to spend some quality time with friends before I move. At least I'm not in Florida during Hurricane Barry, though I'm sure my time will come.
It's my last day of work here at the pencil factory. Even though I know I'll just be cleaning and commenting code today, I have the urge to just start a major and productive project. Anyhow, if things work out, I'll be working part-time from Florida for this company, which will be a great way to keep my hand in the Scrabble bag. Any company that gives Handspring Visors free to all their employees, including lowly summer workers like me, is worth that extra level of dedication.
It's supposed to be "about hot as balls" here today, according the the vernacular, so I may mingle with friends in Chantilly and head for the pool after work.
425 visitors in the first week of the Domain! To satisfy your curiousity about the visitors of this site, go ahead and click on the tiny line-graph icon in the bottom right corner of this news page. It only appears the first time you arrive (to prevent unscrupulous misanthropes from prematurely inflating it) and won't appear again until you've left the site for more than ten minutes.
The new battle report is now complete, so head on over to www.battlereports.com if that's your thing. I'll wait for a couple weeks before posting it here, so as not to steal their thunder.
Now comes the week full of everything that I should have been doing all summer but didn't. I've got several hours of music diagnostic exams to study for (PMO), I need to get back into trumpet-playing mode, and I need to finish my commissioned arrangement of Irish Washerwoman for Blue Ribbon Brass.
And I need to go the beach.
The beach trip was a resounding success. While all the rest of Virginia was getting pounded with rain and thunderstorms, we enjoyed hot, muggy sunshine that was perfect for beaching. Sleeping outdoors on the first night was a little rough, but a good time was had by all. I've added some pictures from the trip to the Photos section.
Now, it's time for the whirlwind packing tour -- fitting everything I own into my car within 48 hours. It's too bad that I won't be able to see more Tech friends before I go, but there's always the Internet for keeping track of people you'd normally never see again.
Well, everything but the computer and the MIDI keyboard are packed up and ready to go. I'm taking the Auto Train down to Florida tomorrow, and will drive from Sanford to Tallahassee on Thursday. After a weekend of furniture shopping, overpriced utility hookups, and every meal at McDonald's, I'll have a week of grad student orientations, diagnostic music exams, and all the exciting accoutrements of establishing residency in Florida. I don't know how often I'll be online these next few days, but I'll check my e-mail as soon as possible. If you missed my mass-mailing with my online contact points and phone numbers, just let me know, and I'll keep you in the loop.
Irish Washerwoman is coming along, although not as speedily as I'd like it to. With an arrangement like this, especially a closing/encore number, it's hard to strike a balance between crowd-pleasing banality and music which is worth playing. I tend to err on the side of the crowd, which makes for a more enjoyable performance, although it doesn't always satisfy the music critic. All too often, popular and traditional music is dismissed as "non-serious" music that's not worth my time as a composer. Since my style is so enmeshed between both worlds, I can hopefully dispel this myth in future works -- I think Vanishing Point and Clown Facades were good starts.
In other news, today is my sister's 25th birthday, and I've also heard back from my high school friend, Mike Sharp, who's alive and kicking in Elmira, New York .
Now back to studying and composing...
This will be the last update until I'm situated in Tallahassee. All in all it was a good summer. If I had to do it over again, I'd do a little more "project" work and a little less game-playing. I did try to do a lot of composing early in the summer, but the inspiration just wasn't there. That was about the time that I switched my energies over to making this web page.
To all the Tech folk that I didn't get to see before leaving, feel free to write me on occasion and keep in touch. If I ever get back up here for a holiday, I have a feeling that Nikki will be in a grad school of her choice, Paige will be adored by all her students, Liz will be off at Catholic U (without her sunglasses which are still sitting on my shelf), Kelley will get off his ass and graduate in December, Shac will still be watching Clockwork Orange in the Recital Salon, Doobie will still be saying things like "I'm like the lighthouse. Come to the shore!", Pip will own Busch Gardens, and everyone else who I didn't mention (only because time is short) will be annoyed at me. I also have to thank the entire Spellerberg family for providing their home as a zany rest stop on my way home from work. I had far too much fun staying there when I should have been studiously reviewing polyphony and Palestrina. Thanks!
Thus concludes the gratuitous, and possibly unintelligible, "shout out to my dawgs" (according to the vernacular).
I'm back online already, probably before most of you had a chance to visit twice. The trip was uneventful, but not too tiresome. I left Lorton on the Auto-Train yesterday afternoon and lucked out with one of the few seats that had no assigned seatmate. Not that it really matters, since train seats are almost as bad as bus seats for sleeping. For dinner, I had chicken with a mother and daughter team that glared at me and the other solo rider as if we were the root of the world's problems. The cheesecake made it all worthwhile.
When not sleeping or staring out the window at the low income housing along the tracks, I read Walter Piston's Counterpoint and Joel Lester's Analytic Approaches to Twentieth-Century Music in their entirety. The first was annoying because of the author's blatant attempts to maintain a scholarly tone by putting the audience at arm's length and never using personal pronouns or contractions. The latter book was interesting, although the entire mathematical analysis system present seems a little too pat for my tastes. Musical analysis often tries too hard to fit everything into neat little boxes. Just listen to the song and enjoy it!
This morning, I drove up from Sanford to Tallahassee, a trip which is about twenty miles longer than Alexandria to Blacksburg, but a little more interesting. I also paid $2.50 to drive down thirty miles of "Florida's Turnpike". I thought the Dulles Toll Road was bad!
I have a quaint one-bedroom apartment overlooking a cemetary across the street, and all my stuff is in piles around the living room. My parents will be here tomorrow with the big furniture, but in the meantime, I should start unpacking and continue studying. The daily twenty-minute-rainstorm has gone through so it's a wee bit cooler outside now.
There's a distinct lack of reputable but affordable sofa sellers in Tallahassee. After driving around all afternoon, my living room is still bare. Other than that, there's not much new to report. I got my FSU ID card today, which is much snazzier than the Hokie Passport in terms of aesthetically-pleasing design.
The recital that Irish Washerwoman was going to appear on has been moved to December, so thankfully I can put that on the back burner and flesh it out more when I have more time to devote to it.
The apartment is complete, except for groceries. Tomorrow, I will read Grout's A History of Western Music from cover to cover. Then, I'll pass the diagnostic exams with flying colours, get my Masters on Thursday, and my Ph.D. on Friday (The Prix de Rome won't be until next week).
Actually, I wouldn't mind failing the exams and taking some of FSU's "remedial" music classes. That way, at least, I could see what's taught at a school with a bigger music focus, and what I missed by going to Tech. It's not that Tech is a bad music school, of course, it's just that you can't compare a school with 1000 music majors to a school with 100 music majors and 100 business-major-transfers.
Only two visitors today, bringing the grand total up to 568 for the month. The number of visitors definitely declines on the weekend, which seems to support my hypothesis that people only visit useless sites like mine when they're at work.
Today I reviewed all aspects of basic theory, analysis, and music in the Middle Ages. Tonight, I'll do the Renaissance, the Baroque period, and some more analysis. That leaves the cracks in tomorrow to do Classical, Romantic, Pre-Modern, and Modern, as well as reviewing the works of 20th century composers and their brethren. I should have no problems with the lower theory exam since Dr. Bachelder did such a stellar job of enforcing retention, but I may slip up in the History and Upper Theory exams. Somehow though, the stereotype that music is the "easy major" perpetuates...
This little plot o' land that I call my own is starting to feel homey now, although the posters keep falling off the walls. Scotch tape and Florida humidity do not make good bed partners. At some point, I really need to clean that burnt cheese out of the oven too.
The lower theory exam was pretty straightforward -- three exercises, with two on partwriting and one on harmonic analysis. I have a feeling that I actually did pretty well. According to the rumour mill, the number of students who passed the History exam was in the single digits one year, and this fact was confirmed by a professor today. I guess I'd better switch my focus from studying Mahler to studying rounded binary form.
There were about 150 new graduate students at orientation today, with most of them being in Music Education or Music Therapy. In second place were the various musicology fields and performance, and composition came in last place with five Masters students and one Doctoral student (I'm counting myself as a Masters student for now). In between the monotonous and tedious paperwork, I caught up with Jaime from Virginia Tech, who's here for Horn Performance. I also met Angela, a composition student who did her undergraduate work here, and Ian, an older man from Canada who relocated his family here so he could study guitar performance. There were a few other supporting characters whose names went straight through my sieve of a memory.
The location of my apartment is great, and the five minute walk from here to the music buildings is decorated with a large array of attractive sorority houses and co-eds. The trip is even shorter than when I lived in West and East AJ at Tech.
I've been assigned as a research assistant to the new faculty member, Dr. Wingate, who will also be the professor I study composition with. I don't know anything else about him, since (according to other faculty) he may or may not be around until the first day of classes. Apparently, he is spearheading the creation of a new computer music center or somesuch, so my assistantship should be fairly intriguing.
The last of the exams occured today. I probably got about 50% on the History exam, and did substantially better on the Counterpoint and Analysis exams. I have a feeling that I'll be taking the History review course, and possibly one other review course, but I won't know until scores are posted tomorrow and Thursday.
I finally got around to posting the Java battle report, for those of you that are into that sort of thing. Simply click on Writings, then Battle Reports, and look for "1v1 Lost Temple" in the list.
I managed to pass exams in Lower Theory, History, and Upper Theory (Counterpoint is not yet posted). Only half of the new grad students passed the History exam, but the other exams seemed to go better overall. This will free up a good block of my time for interesting classes, since I have a pretty good feeling about the Counterpoint exam.
Virginia Tech had eleven general-purpose practice rooms. Six had sufficiently-functional pianos, and another one eternally smelled of the Steak Escape special sauce spilled behind the upright. It was definitely an eye-opener this morning when I discovered two full floors of nothing but practice rooms and music lockers here at FSU. Almost every room I peeked in had its own upright (complete with a stool chained to the piano).
I also picked up my Florida driver's license this morning. Compared with Virginia's, the somber green and white design is butt-ugly.
All four exams are accounted for and passed. This should allow me to put some interesting courses on my agenda, and I may even take a few extra credits later on (once I'm paying in-state tuition). From the looks of my course outline (which hasn't been approved at all yet) I should finish Master's work in a year and a half, and Doctoral work in the same time frame, or possibly two years.
The massive undertaking that is Marching Virginians band camp is now in full swing at Virginia Tech. Although there are parts that I'll definitely miss, I'm not sure if I'd do another season, given the opportunity. The first year was pretty horrible because of bad leadership in the trumpet section, but the next three were highly entertaining. It got pretty old in my fifth year, but having great roommates in the same section kept things afloat quite nicely.
Today I met my composition professor and got an overview of some of the duties I'll have as a research assistant. Dr. Wingate will be creating a brand new electro-acoustic studio of sorts, since the school hasn't had one since the 70s. My duties will be to help in the planning and setting up of the studio this semester, and then tweaking and running it once it opens. I may also teach classes on the software (once I learn it myself, of course), and do general purpose web development and graphical work for the studio, which could ostensibly have international importance. The entire affair sounds very interesting, especially since I haven't done much with combining my two areas of study in the past.
I've always been extremely cautious with the idea of mixing technology with music, simply because there are far too many examples of people using technology because they can, and not because it's a good idea. At Virginia Tech, the morbid fascination with technology often overshadowed basic musical ideas (in my opinion). If the money used to buy worthless laptops and outdated computer lab equipment had been directed towards decent facilities, instruments, and more accompanists, the department would have leapt in credibility overnight. Luckily this project seems to be a healthy extension of basic musicality, rather than a technological wrapper which only muddies the musical waters.
This weekend, I think I'll explore Tallahassee a little more and search out the hidden bookstore north of the city which seems to be the exclusive seller of all my course books.
I walked around my general vicinity today, getting a lay of the land and finding the nearest post office. I also got hit up for money twice. This afternoon I basked in nostalgia by pulling out an old classic, Ultima 7 Part 1, and playing it some. In the latest issue of PCGamer, I found it amusing that the Ultima series was mentioned in the Top 50 games of all time, although the last two games in the series were conveniently omitted. I was also disappointed by the choice of Half-Life as best game ever (it really wasn't a great game).
I'm in the process of scanning many pieces of high school art that I found over the summer. Some of them can be seen on the Artwork page now, and the rest should be up in the next few days. When not doing web stuff, practicing, or composing Irish Washerwoman, I've been tinkering with Java, with possible plans to start a new game idea.
There was a huge spike in visitors on Friday, mainly one person from sagedesign.com who visited more than ten times over the course of the day. Perhaps this site finally has enough fascinating content for repeat visitors... Alternately, that person was extremely bored.
I've finished adding old art to the Artwork page, and as a bonus, I've added a lost essay on Divine Miracles and some haikus to the Writings page. That should be the last "old" content to appear, unless I stumble across a lost treasure trove of inherent creativity.
What good is a window decal that can only be affixed to the outside of the window? I have a couple FSU-related decals I'd like to put on my car, but putting them on the outside is about as useful as a garnet-studded bikini on the outside of your shirt.
Today I continued with composition and Tallahassee exploration. Unfortunately, the Wal-mart here seems to restock on Sunday mornings, which only leaves the crusty, stale food on the shelves when I go at my usual time. I may have to break my year-long routine of reserving early Sundays for laundry and shopping. The horror! I also noticed a car in my parking lot with Fairfax plates -- it looks like I'm not the only one from Ole' Virginny.
For the record, I don't wear bikinis of any sort on any occasion, even on the inside of my shirt.
My schedule looks ready to go. This semester, I'm taking composition lessons, 16th Century Counterpoint, History of Music Theory, and Pedagogy of Music Theory I. Today, I have the last two classes, and I also have to take care of some leftover errands.
I talked to one of my old roommates last night and found that things are going smoothly with the Marching Virginians and the new roommates in the apartment. Kitty now has a supporting cast of a caged bird and a big bunny. Strangely enough, the bunny and cat play together and chase each other around the apartment. The bird, however, is naturally marked as an appetizer. It'll be good for the cat to get some exercise though -- cramped summer living conditions and overindulgence made her a little snooty and plump.
Off to the music building I go... I'll try and write some about my classes tomorrow.
That's the size of the approved grant for the new electro-acoustical music studio, which was submitted last year by the previous director of electro-acoustical music. No doubt, it played a big role in convincing Dr. Wingate to set up camp here and leave his position in Turkey. As of yesterday, Dr. Wingate and the music department suddenly found that the grant no longer exists. Excuses and "I thought you knew"'s from the dean are abundant, but regardless of blame or lack thereof, the new studio has reverted to the no-budget wishlist item it was in the past. Of course, I can't presume to know the whole story, but if I were in Dr. Wingate's shoes, I'd feel pretty miffed right about now.
He was also informed that if he resubmitted the former professor's grant proposal before the deadline in two weeks, it might get re-approved sometime next year. It's sickeningly comforting to find that the potent mix of human nature and bureaucracy produces the same results no matter what state you're in. For now, everything's in a holding pattern until Dr. Wingate can figure out how to proceed.
History of Music Theory and 16th Century Counterpoint were both straightforward classes with roughly sixteen grad students each. The first is a heavy-duty reading class while the second will involve more writing and analysis. The eighty-four dollars I spent on one of the books breaks the old record of forty-nine dollars for most money spent on a music textbook. The books were only sold at Beethoven & Co, which is on the northern outskirts of town. Though out of my way, it was definitely a friendly place to shop. While one owner rang up my purchase and engaged in light banter, the other owner gave me a knowledgeable synopsis of each book in my bag and a brief description of my classes and the professors teaching them.
I had a thought about sprinklers I was going to write, but this news bit is long enough for today.
The houses along my street seem to have a fetish for keeping their lawns green all the time. In particular, I've never walked past the Delta Delta Delta sorority house when a sprinkler wasn't on in the front yard. Even when the grass is a marshy mess and the hose is sinking into the quagmire, the sprinkler is diligently in use.
I had Pedagogy of Music Theory yesterday, which looks like it will be a really interesting class. Practicality interests me much more than theory and history. I consider myself a fairly good one-to-one tutor in general areas, so it will be nice to improve that focus with a class dedicated to teaching. I also took advantage of the surprisingly big music library for some reading assignments. Tech's four shelves of reprints and translations can't compare with two stories of musical goodness. Another surprise that greeted me yesterday was the fact that FSU honours federal holidays. Virginia Tech was always open five days a week, and made up the difference by giving a week's break for Thanksgiving. In fact, it's been so long since I've taken an incidental holiday that I won't know what to do with myself on Labour Day or Veterans' Day.
Irish Washerwoman is near completion -- all I have left is the introduction. I meant to compose more yesterday, but got sidetracked with the oddly compelling Underground Book by Suelette Dreyfus and Julian Assange, which I started over lunch. Though it tends to ramble, and names and dates ooze into a blur, it offers a fascinating look at the history and psychology behind hackers. I read over eight chapters before I realized how much time had passed, and finished the whole 400+ page book before going to bed. Another bonus: the entire book is available for free online .
The electro-acoustic music project has been given some money so equipment can be bought, although it's definitely not of the magnitude of the original grant. I haven't started composition lessons yet, but he's had a chance to listen to my recital CD from last semester.
I still think that Pedagogy of Music Theory will be my most interesting class this semester. I would really like to take more composition-oriented classes, but it seems that most major music schools train you to become a practicing theorist that can compose, rather than the other way around. It's also the case that there's very little established compositional pedagogy. Where music theory is considered to be more of a teachable science, composition is still viewed as a mysterious art with few well-known teaching strictures.
"The University of Florida has about as much right to call themselves a School of Music as I do to call myself a professional golfer. [...] Actually, I have more of a right to call myself a professional golfer." - professor
The Sixth Edition of the URI! Domain has now been around for a month, with over six hundred visitors. Although it never again reached the number of visitors from the first two days, there seems to be a small, dedicated contingent of daily visitors. Thanks to everyone out there for taking the time out of your busy day to stop by! Hopefully you've found something here to amuse you or something that made you forget about the tribulations of life for a few precious seconds. Knowing that people visit has given me an incentive to regularly update the news page, when in past years it often went untended for months at a time.
This weekend should be fairly low-key. Besides the usual rounds of errands, practicing, Irish Washerwoman, and geeky coding, there's a theory/composition department picnic on Saturday that I'll stop in at. Although there are familiar faces in my classes, I haven't even begun to scratch the surface of the music department. I usually don't meet a lot of people in a new setting; instead, I just establish myself and go about my business. After a couple years, people become familiar with me and meet me instead. It's not that I'm actively trying to be a loner -- it's just how my personality is wired. It takes longer to establish friends this way, but I think in the long run, the friendships are more lasting. Of course, I've always had the luxury of a few years to waste in the past. As a grad student, I could ostensibly be here for as little as three years.
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