The URI! Zone - 04/2006
Tag Day: Six Weird or Unusual Habits
I was tagged by Anna on Friday. It's becoming increasingly hard to come up with things that aren't already on my 222 Things About Me page but I'll give it my best shot. And by "give it my best shot" I mean I'll kick that ball so far over the fence that the little kids will be crying for hours. Here goes...
- If I pet a dog, I will obsessively wash my hands afterwards so they don't smell like dog. Then I'll probably pet the dog again two seconds later, and have to repeat the whole procedure like a Pavlovian test subject who also has the misfortune of being OCD. This doesn't apply to any other animals -- I once licked Booty's nose as the result of losing a bet.
- I am an avid bathroom reader. I have gone into the bathroom just to read on more than one occasion. I guess I could have just taken the book out of the bathroom, but I'm sure I'll be vindicated when the nuclear holocaust arrives and I am saved by the structural integrity of my loo.
- I never get mentally nervous about public appearances or speeches (I'm actually more comfortable talking to a large group of people rather than a one-on-one conversation), but in the moments leading up to them I will still get symptoms of physical nervousness like shaky hands and fluttering heartbeats.
- Whenever I buy a TV show on DVD, the first thing I make a beeline for is the Bloopers. I am a blooper connoisseur -- the only true blooper is one where things go horribly awry. You can't just take five minutes of actors unable to recite their lines because of laughter and call it a blooper. I used to watch the deleted scenes, until I realized there's usually a very good reason those were deleted.
- I am almost as cynical about everything as Mike Catania, but it doesn't show as well. I read most of the print edition of the Washington Post every single day. No matter how heart-warming the story is, my brain will reflexively think about the most cynical angle of the story first. When I read about the high school walkouts supporting immigration last week, my first thought was, "They all just wanted to get out of school just like the Million Man March in 1996". Except for Animal Watch -- animals are never cynical.
- I will consent to watch any and every movie, even the really, really bad ones, unless the movie is more than about 140 minutes of running time. Anything below that I can justify as a couple hours of entertainment, but any more than that makes me think of how much time I'm wasting by watching a movie. Because of the highly skewed ratio of female to male acquaintances, I've probably seen more chick flicks than any guy I know.
Now, in an effort to promote cross-blog pollination, the six people I'm tagging are Kim , Mike , Rob , John , Kathy, and Rachel. The last two don't have blogs, so they can answer in the comments section. If I'd picked more people from my list of bloggers, then the other four might get P.O.'d for stealing the people that they could tag.
Happy Birthday, Tim Galyen!Making money off of Daylight Savings Time
Daddy, the only thing I found out today is I don't want to be Jewish
Masturbation as 'intent to litter'
Following a home stretch of working all weekend long and taking a half-day at work on Monday, I have my Sun Java Developer's Certification project finished and ready for submission. The skills required to write the program are nothing that any decent developer wouldn't know already or be able to pick up quickly -- the hardest part of writing for me was going back through it at the end to make sure that every single line obeys the Java Code Standards on formatting, which dictate such minutiae as how many spaces are in 1 hit of the tab key (4) and how to place the curly braces between if statements. Besides that, doing all the work was reasonably interesting in a sick-work kind of way, although it did make me feel like I was back in college again.
I have to make sure that I submit it quickly enough to get it over with before I start second-guessing all the design decisions I made when writing it (but not so quickly that I make a careless mistake). What makes this particular certification so daunting is that it's expensive and anonymously graded. Here's how things work:
- You pay your $250 and get a 6 page list of requirements outlining a project which touches on all major Java coding areas, like GUIs, databases, threads, and network.
- You read the spec once a week for three months so it looks like you're working on it.
- You finally hunker down and finish it off in early April (one month earlier than planned, I might add), and then package it all up to submit online.
- You pay another $150 to go to a Prometric Exam Center where you answer four essay questions which essentially ask "How can we be sure you wrote this yourself unless we ask you about how you designed it?"
- Six weeks later, your code is run through an automatic analyzer which checks to make sure you have covered every requirement that included the word MUST. If you miss any, your assignment is immediately failed without any explanation.
- If you make it this far, you start with 400 points, and your project is pored over by some poor human grader with a checklist. Everytime he finds something he takes issue with, he subtracts some points. If you drop below 320 points, you automatically fail.
- After grading, you get back your score sheet with just the numeric score -- no comments, no criticisms, no text whatsoever.
- If you fail, you are allowed to fork over ANOTHER $125 and resubmit a corrected assignment two weeks later (as long as you can figure out why your other one failed, of course).
So the problem here is the opacity of the grading process. As soon as I submit the project, it's out of my hands and I have to hope the anonymous grader doesn't have a bad hair day. This certification is all about being able to make solid design decisions so there's no one right answer. If the grader dislikes some of my designs and subtracts some points, it wouldn't be the end of the world. But if I lose a point here for having more than 1 whitespace, and another point there for using a capital letter, eventually they can add up. I could fail and have no guidance on where things went wrong to make the second submission any better.
All this heartburn for a worthless piece of paper and a line on my resumé that I'll never reference again. Someday, I will become a high paid consultant and create my own brand of certification on something, then make all my money by failing people and forcing them to resubmit for half the price. This could be the biggest money-making scam ever created, although I'm obviously not the first person to want to exploit it (see also, CMMI, and graduate school).Spider has fiery revenge on nudist
Robotic moose has revenge on hunter
Scam passing oven doors off as flat-screen TVs
Life in Progress
Happy Birthday Geoffrey King! He can enjoy a new episode of LOST tonight.Presenting the case for shacking up before you get old
Keeping in touch through IM without ever talking
Bug has explosive revenge on teacher
- Gwen Stefani - Crash (346KB MP3)
She's obviously forgotten what a melody is and her beat sounds like the kid in marching band who didn't have enough rhythm to play the snare drum so they got the triangle. If the movie, Crash, had used this for a theme song, you never would have seen them in the running for the music Oscar.
- Cheeky Girls - Cheeky Song (511KB MP3)
This song is about four years old now but it's still embarassingly bad. These girls didn't make the cut on the British American Idol... I wonder why.
- TATU - All About Us (447KB MP3)
From the patented TATU department of "rush through the verse in broken English so you can get to the horrible chorus that really wasn't worth rushing towards in the first place".
- (292KB MP3)
- (187KB MP3)
- (141KB MP3)
- Shaggy - Angel
- Barenaked Ladies - One Week
- Cardigans - Don't Blame Your Daughter
- Jet - Look What You've Done
- The Darkness - I Believe in a Thing Called Love
- McFly - Ballad of Paul K
Three Act Season Three of LOST
He didn't like Led Zeppelin or The Clash but I don't think there was any need to tell the police
A donkey is like a housewife
Rachel gets to be in the tagline because it's her birthday today
Eva Longoria's so fat, planes could land on her belly
Lazy mole rats that get fat to have sex
Rich women want hot men
The Car As a Microcosm of Its Owner's Cleanliness: A Highly Scientific Study
You may think your friends are neat individuals, vacuuming the house before they have company, or shaving their lambchops off before the big dance. They might fool the public by having a nice clean desk with all the clutter tucked safely away in a drawer. However, all bets are off when you take a peek in their car. One glance through the back window is usually enough to confirm or dispel the myths about their cleanliness.
Walk down the row of any parking lot and you'll see a variety of cars with their interiors in various states of clutter, from impeccably spotless cars that show the owner is out at the gas station every Friday afternoon at the 25 cent vacuum, to cars so filled with receipts and bags and fast food wrappers that CSI: Miami could reconstruct that person's life from the last four months with amazing accuracy. In some cases, Lab Technician Tshombe from CSI: Zaire could do it with nothing more than a pair of forceps and a rock.
My own car interior is a little dusty, but has no clutter. This is by default though, rather than any concerted effort on my part -- I spend so little time in there that the only thing in the backseat are a pair of gloves and a scarf for cold mornings and a Club, which I like to slip on the wheel in seedy neighbourhoods (even though I never lock it -- it's just for show, because if someone's really going to steal your car with a Club on the wheel, they probably already have the tools needed to get it off). As I pass by other peoples' cars (on my daily constitutionals through parking lots where I search for illegal immigrants and provoke crime to fight), I've seen varying levels of craziness, such as:
- A backseat filled completely with newspapers in paper bags: You don't get more money if your recyclables are well-travelled.
- A child seat camouflaged on all sides by McDonald's wrappers: Honey, throw another cheeseburger back at Jimmy, he just won't shut up!
- A broken lightbulb: Why is there a lightbulb there in the first place, unless you are a cartoon character and had a great idea while driving down the interstate?
- A small tribe of empty Dasani water bottles: This just seems like a bad idea, especially in northern Virginian traffic -- who knows when you'll be able to get home and pee? I guess you could pee back into the bottle if worst came to worst -- ashes to ashes and all that.
I bet it's even worse in SUVs, but the world will never hear about them, because I am too short to peek in the windows.
Happy Birthday Mom!The original meaning of scumbag is "condom".
Round One: Rosie O'Donnell vs. Naomi Campbell
Onboard navigation system tries to kill British people
The Evolution of a Composer: A Pictorial (Part I of II)
To be concluded tomorrow...Blueprints for hijacking Air Force One posted
Monster bunny on the loose
Energy, immigration, it's all the same thing
The Evolution of a Composer: A Pictorial (Part II of II)
New LOST on tonight! Last one until May sweeps month! If you like to Tivo these things, make sure you set it for 65 minutes not 60.Hurry up, grandma
Yahaya needs more minutes
Gamers make good robbery targets
Chad Darnell's 12 of 12
I'm a regular reader of Chad Darnell's blog, and decided to join this month's round of 12 of 12 for hijinks and fame (and the women of questionable morals that often follow fame). In a nutshell, it's simply a blog update where you take 12 pictures of your daily routine on the 12th of the month -- you can see his archive of past months here . This is what I did yesterday:
1) 5:39 AM: Waking Up
My alarm goes off every morning at 5:25 AM, and if I don't drag myself into the shower immediately, I will never get out of bed. This picture is actually a redo -- the first one I took was of me shaving, but the lens was so fogged up that I just looked like a blurry yeti with rabies (the last thing anyone wants is to find their picture on Google Images under just such a heading). Why are toothbrush handles so big today? Are peoples' hands getting smaller?
2) 5:57 AM: On the Road
I love my commute because it's only seven miles long. I love it more because the lights are always green at this ungodly hour. The artistic flare of the traffic signals can either be attributed to my impeccable picture-taking technique or the way I balanced the camera on the steering wheel while driving over potholes -- your choice.
6:40 AM: Sunrise in Reston
After I've had my hot chocolate and a breakfast bar, caught up on the news and all my e-mail, and attained some level of mild consciousness, I can turn around in my swivel chair to watch the sun come up over the Reston skyline.
8:47 AM: Working Hard
Two hours later, I surface from the tribulations of work to snap a quick one-handed picture of myself at my computer. That it's surprisingly in focus is a sign of my award-winning "left-handed technique". Get your mind out of the gutter.
1:04 PM: Driving Home
I head home right about the time that all those clowns who wasted an hour for lunch at Chipotle are coming back for more fun-filled work. Notice that my eyes are, in fact, on the road, although moments later, I hit a cow.
1:27 PM: Eating Lunch
This is me, eating a ham sandwich and reading the Washington Post. Apparently the President is unpopular, there's war in the Middle East, and that vegetable you thought was healthy actually causes eyeball cancer.
7) 2:14 PM: Mowing the Lawn: This is me, wheeling my lawn mower out of the shed for the first mowing of the year. Immediately following this action shot, the front wheels of the mower got caught on the lip of the shed door and I almost dropped the camera. Undeterred, I gassed it up and trimmed my vast expanse of lawn (all 0.12 acres of it).
8) 4:01 PM: Feeding the Cats
I have two automatic food alarms installed in my house, and they start going off as soon as I get home from work everyday. Generally I can hit the Snooze button on these alarms until around four o' clock in the afternoon, which resets the alarms so that I don't have to hear them again until I wake up the next morning. Any earlier and I get an earful right around 3 in the morning, which is not fun for anyone involved. It's like my own personal version of the timer in the hatch on LOST, and things get pretty ugly if I don't get the food bin out in time.
9) 5:45 PM: Playing Games
After a quick shower, I decided to sit down for a game of World of Warcraft. Playing this game is like playing the lottery: you type in your username and password to login and then wait while the game tries to load your account. Five minutes later, you get a message saying that there's a problem with the server, you can't connect at this time, and to please try again later. This was fun for about eight and a half minutes.
10) 6:23 PM: Cooking Dinner
There's no healthier way to end the day than with a dinner of toast, orange juice, five slices of thick-sliced bacon, and three soft-boiled eggs. Am I right? Bacon grease is clinically proven to lubricate your internal organs like WD-40 on a squeaky hinge so make sure you get at least two helpings of it every day. P.S. The bacon was disappointing, and ended up looking and tasting like damp paper towels.
11) 9:04 PM: Watching LOST
It's Wednesday, so I'm watching LOST. Rather, I'm watching commercials intercut with tiny LOST interludes. I took this picture during a commercial so I wouldn't miss the moment when Michael Vaughn crawled out of the hatch to tell Locke he was one of the 4400. I hope that wasn't a spoiler.
12) 10:22 PM: Going to Bed
Yes, I go to bed incredibly early because 26 is the new Geriatric. Moments after turning off the camera and getting in bed, I got back up because I realized that I'd better upload the final picture so it wouldn't just be 11 of 12 (and 1 more still in my camera). A more apt title for this picture might then be Feinting to Bed.
Bonus Picture: "RED"
A stunning aerial flyby shot of a vintage 2002 IKEA couch, made more comfortable by a red afghan.
Were you awed by the level of thrills and excitement in my day? I was going to include the part where I deciphered the alien language and successfully communicated to the alien ambassador that we have nukes, but cameras aren't allowed in that facility. These are all the parts I can talk about.Rival bands class over little-KISS tribute
Ugly people make bad parents
DEA Agent Who Shot Self In Foot Sues U.S.
Because bullets and stream of consciousness make everything better
How to tell that your daughter needs a hobby
Some people watch NASCAR for the hillbilly wife fights
Some people buy lawn gnomes...
Higher Education Week: Fifteen Things I Learned in Public Schools
- If random thugs have slashed open the back of the bus seat in front of you, you can use the hole to store your boogers and chewing gum. Updated for the 21st Century: If MS-13 members have slashed open the back of the bus seat in front of you with a machete, you can use the hole to store your drugs and handguns.
- Playing with yourself in the bathroom right next to the band room is a bad idea, because someone will catch you and you will not live it down until you graduate five years later and move away. [Editor's Note: This was an alto sax player, not me.]
- If one of your classmates gets a stomach bug and vomits up his lunch in your classroom, the smell will never go away 100%, no matter how many chemicals the janitor applies to the tile.
- If you live on the complete opposite side of the city from your spring sport, you can never trust the Activity Bus driver to know where she's going, because she only took the job to earn a few extra bucks, and will eventually give up and drop you off wherever she happens to be.
- If a teacher ever writes "Brian needs to work on his handwriting" or gives you a U in penmanship, it will not affect your long-term prospects for getting into college or running for office, so just give them the finger.
- No one really knows the words to the school song unless they went there before 1975.
- If you have a crush on someone, you have to confide it to the person most likely to tell everyone without a moment's thought, then pretend to be upset about it, but be secretly relieved the the word has been disseminated. Plus, if that person doesn't like you back, you can blame the blabbermouth for all of your life's woes.
- Girls are big big trouble.
- If you are a Safety Patrol, you can roll up your orange vinyl belt into a tight projectile and then whip it out at someone like Spiderman casting webs. If you are an officer, just make sure they don't get hit with your badge, or they will cry and tell on you.
- There will always be at least one classmate who is incapable of opening his milk carton correctly every day. Normally, he'll just open the wrong side, but sometimes he'll mangle the top so badly that he'll have to get a new carton. This same person will also not be very good at Origami during Art class.
- The kids in the Talented and Gifted program are generally pretty stupid, and will give you your first real-world shock when you start thinking about the people who aren't in the program.
- The kids with the nicest cars (generally received the day of their 16th birthday) will be the worst drivers. As you add more passengers to their cars, their driving skills will linearly decrease.
- If you play Nerf soccer in the band room, only use the bass drum as a goal when you are sure that no teachers are around.
- There will always be rumours about people who had sex in the auditorium, the lighting room, or backstage. They are all 100% true.
- If you get a teacher who says that they taught your parents or the parents of one of your friends, you are guaranteed to not learn anything worthwhile for that semester.
- If you are now in college and go back to the high school to visit your younger girlfriend, this is seen as a cool and acceptable practice. If, however, you are more than seven years older than she is, she is not a senior, and you hang out with her constantly at the boathouse even though you yourself don't do Crew, this is just considered creepy. There will be at least one creepy guy in the latter category every three or four years.
Happy Birthday Kim!Yummy mummy worms are gross
This is not the time or place for ninjas
Midriffs put you off your eating
Higher Education Week: Fifteen Things I Learned in College
- Less than 2% of sheltered high school relationships will last beyond the first three months of college, simply because each partner is suddenly bombarded by hot people all around. It's like getting promoted to Best Buy after shopping in Radio Shack all your life.
- There is no greater concentration of loose women in the world than on a college campus.
- Going 73 on I-81 will get cops on your ass. Going 69 is acceptable. There will be a possibility of a speed trap every third crossover, or after each overpass.
- The professors with tenure are the ones you will learn the least from.
- You can identify freshman music education majors because they will complain during Music Theory about how they don't need any of that garbage to be a band director.
- If you have even a whit of musicality, you can practice your instrument for an hour a day and be better than that guy who sucks but thinks he's good and stays in the practice room all day long. The person you notice the most in the vicinity of the practice rooms is most likely the worst musician in the progam. The guy who slips out of the practice rooms under the cover of darkness and is never seen or heard except during concerts is probably a musical genius.
- Sopranos are more unstable than altos. Tenors are more neurotic than basses. Flutists are more neurotic than clarinetists, but there are more good flute players than clarinetists.
- 80% of music performance majors do not belong anywhere near a microphone, but they will all get their degrees. 5% of freshman Computer Science majors will be girls. This will drop to near 0 by senior year, because they will tire of being followed around campus and cyberstalked by 95% of their fellow majors. 95% of business majors are hambones, and 99% of those will be in a fraternity.
- There will be at least
oneeight obnoxious, pedantic geeks in any Computer Science class you take. They are only there as training for when you enter the real world and have to deal with them daily.
- Everyone will notice when you fan your pot out the window, even if you think you are being sneaky by disposing of the evidence with incense.
- A fun game to do in lecture classes is to put your head down and take notes until you fall asleep. Later, you can try to decipher the tail end of the notes, or convert them into hieroglyphics.
- You will never get a parking spot right next to your class. You will pay twice as much as you should for your parking permit and will risk towing at least five times in your academic career.
- You'd think that the townhouse party would be less crowded and annoying than the apartment party, but this is never true.
- The guy with the loudest music on your hall or in your complex will also be the guy with the worst musical taste.
- If you wrap the fire alarm in your dorm room with clear Scotch tape, it will reduce the volume of the alarm by 80%, and no inspectors will realize that you are violating the Fire Code. If you have a loft-bed, you can avoid fire drills and hall-sweeping RAs by rolling onto the slat between the mattress and the wall and pulling the covers back so it looks like you left the room.
"To resign because of this, I don't think so."
Immigration protests is to nuclear attack as...
Higher Education Week: Fifteen Things I Learned in Grad School
- Everyone who went straight to grad school from undergrad did so because they didn't want to enter the real world yet.
- It is much harder to skip class in grad school because every class only has ten people in it.
- People in grad school become obsessed with going to conferences and presenting papers. If you do not attend at least one conference every term, you're some sort of strange aboriginal leper.
- Going to grad school will make you realize how woefully lacking your undergraduate education was. (You will not notice a thing going from high school to college though).
- 95% of people in grad school are bound for academia and tenureland. The other 5% will do something completely unrelated to their degree or become the night clerk at CVS.
- There will always be at least one grad school out there willing to subsidize your degree in exchange for an assistantship. People who pay for the whole thing themselves and complain about it didn't try hard enough.
- Being a research assistant on a project that's about to be cancelled is like winning the assistantship lottery. You get paid to do absolutely nothing.
- People from other countries will outnumber Americans 2 to 1, and they will generally be smarter than we are.
- You will hate undergraduate parties as a grad student, because you are old, feeble, and just want to go to bed without hearing a Nickelback cover band in your backyard.
- The youngest professors will impress you the most with the amount of knowledge they have compared to you, and the oldest professors will be the most memorable. The ones in the middle are still trying to get tenure and will be forgettable (they probably won't even remember you after you graduate).
- Graduate composers are just more grumpy versions of their undergraduate counterparts.
- In college, you have to make sure the girls aren't dating someone before you start hitting on them. In grad school, you have to look for wedding rings.
- Your undergraduate students will prefer you to their professors, but only because you're almost their contemporaries. Despite this closeness of age, dating your students is still frowned upon.
- None of the books in the library will be less than ten years old, but they will be the lynchpin of all your research.
- The amount of free time you have in grad school is obscene, and most likely the number one cause of procrastination and not being able to get anything done.
Happy Birthday Carly Williams!Man lives the American Dream commute
Man with the worst commute
Bartering from a paper clip to a house
Higher Education Week: Fifteen Things I Learned in The Real World
- Your productivity will increase by 10% if you work from home rather than at the office.
- Always share an office with someone who spends most of their time on a customer site. That way you have a single office that's twice as big as a normal single, and no one can complain because you do, in fact, have an officemate.
- The average office employee will spend two or more hours out of their day not doing anything work-related. This amount increases if the employee smokes.
- The only skill you retain from college is how to work towards a deadline. The actual content of the knowledge you learned there is irrelevant.
- If you have someone on your team that listens to their voicemail over speakerphone, it is highly likely they have at least two more annoying habits.
- There is no such thing as a company motivational poster that actually does its job.
- Employees who seem "young" tend to get twice as much work done as their older counterparts, and they can even manage this after spending most of the time goofing off.
- If your job is 100% company-internal, or 100% schmoozing with customers, it is irrelevant. If your job somehow bridges the gap between these two, it is very important, but will never be recognized as such.
- Nothing worthwhile ever comes out of a meeting with more than four people in it.
- If some aspect of your job is highly divisive and handled differently on other teams, there will not be a corporate policy for it. Once someone finally gets around to making a corporate policy, team leaders will think it's too strict (or not strict enough) and do their own thing regardless.
- The people with the nicest offices and office furniture spend the least amount of time in the office.
- People who go out to eat for lunch every single day don't seem to realize that they're prolonging the amount of time they spend at work or interacting with people they can't wait to get away from at the end of the day.
- The more antsy you get about getting your security clearance, the longer it will take.
- If your company has an employee stock program of some kind, everyone will talk about it but no one will really be sure what it's all about.
- Even in a tech company, there will be tech-illiterate workers.
I will be out of town for the rest of the week, wasting gas money to visit clowns of yore, so there will be no Friday Fragments column tomorrow. Feel free to write your own and post it in the comments section. Have you added yourself to the URI! Zone Frappr Map yet ? See you all on Monday!The game where your hamster devours you
This is not the time or place for grenades
Because faking six babies is so much easier than faking one
How I Spent My Spring Break by Brian Uri!
I came home from work on Thursday morning and left the carefully manicured suburbia of Sterling in my sensible Honda Accord for the idyllic splendour of Blacksburg. My street is like Wisteria Lane, except that everyone else speaks Spanish and there are no attractive neighbours.
This is Exit 222 in Staunton on I-81, the second most boring interstate on the East Coast, trailing only I-95 in sourthern North Carolina. The only reason Staunton exists at all is so you know you're halfway to Blacksburg (and so Kelley can have his wedding in September). The smoke signals rising in the middle of the picture are not Virginian Indians -- it was just a giant flying beetle that splattered across my windshield. On your right is the scenic view that you get when you drive down this interstate.
My sister lives behind a trailer park in Christiansburg near the drive-in movie theatre. They just evicted someone with a meth lab in one of the trailers. Welcome to southwest Virginia.
This is far too many animals for a house that you could fit in the back of a Chevy Suburban. You can see close ups of these animals and new pictures of Booty and Amber here.
I think the completed stadium looks like an ugly leftover prop from Battlefield: Earth. The campus is much more gentrified than I remember -- there are traffic lights at all the intersections where you used to be able to laugh at all the sorority girls in their PT Cruisers getting in fender benders. The pool hall in Squires has been remodeled to look like a sports bar, with carpet and hanging TVs and bar lighting, and the food court now has an Au Bon Pain that you can actually walk into. There should never be a reason in this life to walk around an Au Bon Pain.
Fifty-five former students of Dr. Bachelder made the trip back to town for his retirement concert, some from as early as 1972. We all had a surprisingly coherent sound given that many people had not played in decades. When the actual concert came around, Dr. Bachelder played a few songs with the symphonic band and then the current students moved around the sides of Haymarket Theatre for an antiphonal piece in his honour. Halfway through that piece, the doors opened up and all the alumni filed in to finish the piece. If you are unfamiliar with Haymarket, picture an auditorium designed for one-act plays and chamber groups. Then put an eighty piece band up on the stage and ring sixty to seventy trumpet players around the outside edge. Finally, put a crowd of unsuspecting parents in the center, hemmed in on all sides with no escape and tell the trumpet players to play as loud as possible (honestly though, when does a trumpet player ever need to be told that?). Parents who had just come to town to hear their kid play the oboe were suddenly bombarded by a wall of trumpet sounds that did not relent for another thirty minutes. By then, everyone in the middle was deaf, and the U.S. Department of Defense had entered talks to use trumpets in their latest "Non-Lethal Aural Weapons" program.
The post-concert reception was at Gillies, across the street from Squires. I marveled, for a moment, at the fact that I'd never been in Gillies before, but then realized that it was a vegetarian cuisine, and I would have had absolutely no reason to step inside in the five years I went to school there. The food was rather sparse, since the music department budget is now comparable to the salary of a single professional musician who can't get a symphony gig and ends up teaching private guitar lessons at Music and Arts.
This is Doobie, on the right. He wanted to be in my update today, even though he's a tuba player.
I left Gillies around 1 AM because I am old and had been up since 5 the previous morning. The next day, the few remaining trumpet players who were still in town staggered into the music department around noon to take Dr. Bachelder out to eat at Mike's, where they made fun of Scott for still being drunk thirty-six hours later, Chris for being a big Chinese guy, and Kelley for being a poor trumpeter about to marry a high-powered lawyer. So in essence, nothing at all had changed.
Bonus Picture: I am incubating a dinosaur in my hair gel.
For more pictures from this weekend, visit the Photos section.
Happy Birthday Philip Barbie and Andrea Frazao!Images of women such as Kelly Brook can be distracting to men
Clever duck learns to cross the road
Apparently his X-Ray Specs did not give away his false vocation
One Time At Band Camp
because blogs always have to have at least one post titled as such, to show that the writer is hip and with it
- New Version (873KB MP3)
- Old Version (335KB MP3)
House Blasted by 3,000 Gallons of Sewage
An Internet video that shows someone spraying graffiti on Air Force One looked so authentic that the Air Force wasn't certain whether the plane had been targeted.
TV show's sex jokes not harassment
Capsule Review Day
LOST: TV Soundtrack by Michael Giacchino
Written by the guy who wrote the soundtrack to The Incredibles and Alias, there's nothing amazing or underwhelming about this CD -- it's just a solid television score in an age where it's just as easy to overdub a scene with a throwaway Blink 182 song. Giacchino must have done something right, because I could picture the images from Season One of the show in my head as the various songs and motives popped up. The ensemble is interesting too -- a studio orchestra, ten trombones, four harps, three guitars, and three percussionists, who spend most of the CD performing on custom instruments created from the wreckage of the crashed airplane from the pilot episode. Not a single trumpet in sight. Rating: A
The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
This is the first book in the multiple-award-winning His Dark Materials trilogy. Part fantasy, part Crichton-technothriller, and part childrens' fable, the trilogy is a vague retelling of Milton's Paradise Lost. Pullman is quite the skilled writer and there's obvious care and attention to detail in every aspect of the world he created for this series. I actually read this book twice before continuing to the next one, because I wanted to make sure I didn't miss a single detail. Imaginative and worth a read. Rating: ****
The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman
Book Two immediately draws you in, turning the tale of Book I on its head with a simple understated foreward that's only two lines long. Pullman does a great job of deepening the story without letting it get out of control, and the story confirms the fact that this trilogy has an overall arc to it (unlike the show, 24, which uses its middle section to give everyone amnesia and STDs from mountain lions). This book wasn't as finely crafted as the first, but it was much more of a page-turner. Rating: ***
The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman
Let's say you were the next Jane Goodall, on the trail of the elusive Gherkin Monkey in the rain forest. You come across a steaming pile of monkey dookie on the forest floor and use your otherwise useless biology major to deduce that this poop does, in fact, come from the Gherkin Monkey. You trek into the wilderness for several months, often coming across more exciting signs of the monkey, from a tuft of hair caught on the bark of a tree to some of the monkey's underpants. After long hours spent getting closer to the monkey, you suddenly arrive at the end of your journey to find out that it wasn't a Gherkin Monkey after all, it was just an everyday opossum that was tragically misunderstood. That's the type of letdown I got from reading this conclusion to the trilogy -- I had high hopes for a rare artful work and ended up blinded by monkey spoor. It becomes clear from the start that Pullman has an anti-religion agenda, and throughout this long, tiresome book he lets his preaching get in the way of his storytelling. The book meanders through universes and vague philosophies, using coincidence to bring unrelated characters back together when they need to be, and losing the thrust of his original story under the weight of his anti-church sentiments, which aren't even coherent enough to write a thesis on. There are many imaginative stories told here, and the conclusion of Lyra and Will's story is emotional and touching, but it's hard to notice these tiny good things when you're wading through monkey dung. If you're like me though, you HAVE to read this book if you've read the first two books just to find out what happened. Rating: * 1/2
This thriller starring Clive Owen and Jennifer Aniston was "okay". I have yet to like a movie with Clive Owen in it -- maybe I should start paying attention to that. As thrillers go, it's pretty easy to figure out the twist, and too much time is spent developing characters and back stories that could just as easily have been skimmed over. It also suffers from a dose of Melissa George, she who can't decide if she's blonde or brunette -- in this movie she can't decide if she's English or American. The film is about twenty minutes too long, and even has an ending after the ending which needlessly stretches the running time out by another fifteen minutes. Rating: Yawn
Last weekend, I went bowling with Kim after dinner at the Capital City Brewing Company in Shirlington. It had been over four years since my last bowling outing (which was in Blacksburg when Kelley and Philip still lived together) and I'd forgotten how fun it was. I bowled a 149 in the first game, which was slightly above average for me, but then promptly dropped by thirty points in the second game after my luck had worn off. Now if only they could invent a fan that magically removes all the smoke from your clothing as you leave the alley it would be a perfect outing. All us'n Virginians should definitely do more bowling together. Rating: Set phasers to FUN!
Currently Reading: The Tin Princess by Philip Pullman
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Happy Birthday Noah Egge!I'd rather have an antique watch
Chad Darnell on the end of Alias
Police release sketch of rape suspect, then advertise for a new artist
My cul de sac used to be a juvenile wasteland, where all the neighbours were old, Hispanic, or old Hispanics. Sometime between last summer when Anna and Kathy moved out, and the beginning of Spring, children began emerging from some hidden child dispenser, biking up and down the court or playing firmly in the way of oncoming traffic like ineluctable locust swarms. There are now at least ten children from age three to thirteen who congregate daily under the shadow of the portable basketball hoop and the deft tones of poor dribbling echo through the pavement into the foundation of my house for three hours every evening.
Playing the role of the neighbourhood hermit (which involves unhygienically crouching over a typewriter in the back room with the lights out, poring over tomorrow's web update), I never noticed that all of these families had moved in. I suppose this means that I'll soon have to write checks to buy cookies from the Girl Scouts and cheese and sausage from the local marching bands.
Yesterday, I happened to be outside mowing the cancerous growth of my lawn (the result of four inches of rain in the past week) when the kids got tired of running around in circles while the big kids played basketball. They all formed up in a friendly driveway, organized by one of the older boys, and took turns in a battle of wits. And by battle of wits, I mean they had a "your momma" joke contest. Granted, all the jokes were pretty stale, and some of them just got weirder as the kids got younger (one four year old said, "Your momma's so fat, she falls on the wall.") but it's a good sign for the future when kids can form themselves into teams to sling insults at each other. Everywhere you go these days, you hear people complain about the youth of today , how they're rude, ignorant, or feel like they deserve everything without work. But if the kids on my court are any indication, their parents are at least doing something right.
Years from now, when little baby Thor Uri! goes running up the court into oncoming traffic, he's going to be the pro momma jokester that organizes the other children into pun wars. I will be proud.
Happy Birthday Jonathan Shachter!Talking toilets in prison
You've got to have goals in life
Who needs karate when you're a magician?
My mind is a swirling miasma of scintillating thoughts and turgid ideas
Employee web-surfing not unreasonable
Robber locked in bank
Man stole to keep 17 mistresses
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