This Day In History: 01/03

Thursday, January 03, 2002

Last weekend's sickness hit me pretty hard. My mind is full of ideas, resolutions, essays, motives, and plans, but I'm still in the process of recuperating and too weak to give everything the focus it deserves. It looks the like the few days of jump-start I had planned on will be pushed up to the beginning of the semester (on Monday). It actually got into the thirties here, so it's even too cold for me to walk over and do any practicing, and these snakeskin windows make it a chore to even get the temperature up to seventy, much less keep it there.

I think, then, that the best course of action will be to rest, read my music and history books, and watch movies until I feel better. The next update will be January 5th.

Cheers, matey.

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Friday, January 03, 2003

I left home yesterday around five in the morning and got on I-95 with the Yanni belting out open windows. The first leg of the trip into North Carolina was uneventful, and besides the odd catfish truck I was the only person on the road. It was around Rocky Mount that I nodded off at the wheel, since the road was straight and danger was nonexistant. The next thing I knew, there was a guttural screeching of gears and airhorns and a bright flash of sparks as I veered off the road and through an electrified fence. The last thing I remember was a herd of cows mooing like bovine cannibals around the car.

When I became conscious again, I found myself in a small barren room with a single incandescent light bulb swaying from the ceiling. I was handcuffed to a chair and an overbearing fellow with no neck who smelled like feet was glaring across the table at me. He fired a steady barrage of questions at me in a variety of Arabic dialects which I couldn't understand, although I did hear the words 'suitcase bomb' occasionally. The interview went much quicker when Islaac realized I could speak English and we quickly worked things out. I had breached the perimeter of a top secret army installation somewhere north of Florence and they suspected me of being a suicide bomber (albeit one who hadn't done a particularly good job).

Once they realized I was just a student, they fixed up my car and sent me on my way, anxious to avoid negative publicity, or any publicity at all for that matter. Luckily, there was minimal damage to the bumper of my car, and all my belongings were still inside (except for the computer, which I got back after they had scanned it thoroughly). I arrived in Tallahassee only a few hours late, after being tailed by a government SUV through South Carolina and most of Georgia. It was definitely a trip that I'll never forget.

Today's Maxim: It's okay to lie when the truth is boring.

Also, there's a few new pictures on the Photos page.

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

Saturday, January 03, 2004

I'm still sticking with the jazz piano thing -- practicing ii, V, I's and simple progressions out of a Fake book. I haven't had a chance to work on Auricle in a few weeks, because programming at work has been pretty heavy and I need some computer-away time while at home to relax my wrists.

Today I cleaned the apartment and consolidated a bunch of boxes to make more room in the kitchen. Now, I think I'll read a book in my window seat.

Do you all like seeing the search terms, or are they a boring waste of space to make entries look longer? I find them interesting myself, but I can stop if no one reads them.

Yesterday's search terms:

    mozart's sonata composition style, Prokofiev's first and second movements of the Classical Symphony, "so you thought you could puzzle some affinity through on the rise, mmm, I mean, you couldn't be anymore obvious, though somewhere I tasted a little attempted mug where refered to those that have less urgent reasons to stay awake", interpretation ozymandias, Radish seeds experiment for the seventh grade, Virginia toll plaza job, Toll plaza design Schaufler, Specie Resumption Act of 1875, ewazen sonata for trombone program notes, sprained both ankles, worst sentence ever, Mark Wingate's music, trumpet sonata by antheil, author devices, bread tastes too yeasty, Derek Han complete Mozart, famous tightwads, faulkner similarities toni morrison, Lesa Ray, Original writer of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, marching band rock opera tommy, quantum brass, chord notation, toll booth operator job, Mama Elena, how to write a battle report

Paris Hilton buys plenty of pizza
Homeless by choice
Partying forces hotel to evacuate
Croc Hunter provides tasty morsels

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Monday, January 03, 2005

I thought I'd ring in the New Year with the backlog of Cat and BU pictures from last year. Though the site hasn't changed much in the past year, I'd like to make at least two improvements in 2005: adding some sort of search engine to make things easier to locate, and improving the Photos section to make it easier to look at pictures or visit random pictures.

I hope everyone had a fun-filled weekend of debauchery. We had a party here, but we planned it so late that it did not reach epic proportions. It was fun nonetheless.

Convict found in sofa
Knife-wielding intruders apologize for error
Sports Illustrated reports the news that matters

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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Cat Media Tuesday

obviously a completely original update idea

This time around, it only took two full days for the four cats to recognize each other and stop growling like possessed puppets. Anna dropped off her two cats on Friday afternoon before fleeing to the relative safety of the big city. Booty and Amber were immediately on their guard, Kitty automatically went into super-bitch mode (super power: Cujo disguise), and Sydney was completely unphased, wandering around the house trying to open up all the doors and cabinets. Sydney's new way of being loved is to walk up to someone and then fall over on his or her feet like a tipped cow on Prozac -- you can't help but to pet her after she's upside down and meowing. Amber is funny because she's inherently cute, and even when she's growling and acting tough, she still has that cute quality to her -- it's like a four-year-old mimicking the latest MTV rap video, adorably thuglike until she whips out the glock and busts a cap in your shin.

Cats introduced to other cats are interesting because they decide to hate all the cats in the room, even the ones they've lived with for years. For the first two days, Booty growled at Amber and Kitty punched Sydney in the face multiple times. It wasn't until last night that Sydney and Amber remembered that they are totally related, and started romping around like "kittens in a living room".

You can see a few new cat pictures on the Photos page. You can also watch the following movies to fully understand the quirkiness of cats. I had to switch to a new version of my Windows Media Video encoder, so please let me know if you have trouble viewing them.


While playing with my blinds, Amber gets spooked by the beginning of Tim Booth's Wave Hello (363KB WMV).

On Day One of the Great Experiment, all the cats find domains to call their own. Since there aren't many hiding places to choose from, Sydneyand Amber agree to engage in a tenative state of détente (54KB WMV).

Kitty engages in a needless show of force, just to keep everyone on their toes (118KB WMV).

People never believe me when I say that Booty's favourite game is to empty the water bowl on the floor, but now I have proof (534KB WMV).

Happy Birthday Sam!

Cat dials 911
Masked bandit sabotages the shirt shop
Elmo asks, "Who wants to die?"

tagged as cats, media | permalink | 1 comment

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

List Day: New Year's Resolutions

  1. Become a syndicated talk show host who only interviews the scrubs that get rejected from all the other talk shows.
  2. Save a small child from a runaway cement mixer with bad rear-left brakes.
  3. Participate in at least one foreign military coup and become the head of state in the subsequent puppet government, directly involved in the day to day suppression of human rights, and lefts.
  4. Write the Great Asian-American Novel and sell the TV-movie rights to NBC for their new Must-See-TV on Thursday nights.
  5. Climb Mount Everest without any oxygen gear or shoes.
  6. Simultaneously date between four and seven women while marrying at least two, without entering the state boundaries of Utah.
  7. 1024x768, or maybe 1600x1200
  8. Invent a sport, get it added to the Summer Olympics, and become the first athlete to gold medal in it.
  9. Be a double-nominee for Academy Awards in Sound Mixing and Documentary Feature for my work on Deaf Boy With No Ears in a Soundproof Dungeon of the Heart.
  10. Learn every dialect of the Chinese language and display my linguistic prowess on the Mandarin version of Jeopardy!.
  11. Vandalize at least fourteen Wikipedia entries with slightly satirical information that could quite possibly be mistaken for the truth.
  12. Genetically engineer the perfect pet, using DNA strains from a Maine Coon, a Labrador, a bumblebee, and Chewbacca.
  13. Write a country song using only a Csus9 chord and the phrase "boot-lickin' dogie vittles".
  14. Discover the lost continent of Atlantis in Lake Huron.
  15. Eat lots of bacon.

At least I have about as much of a chance to keep my resolutions as you do yours!

Happy Birthday Lisa Johnson!

Parasite makes men dumb and women hot
Creepy paintings removed from hospital
I didn't notice the mistake as my son is usually good with computers

tagged as lists | permalink | 0 comments

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Europe Day

an occasional post about finding the way to Europe

Everyone has a different reason for wanting to travel to Europe. For me, I could give a rat's ass about this little block of marble carved into a Renaissance codpiece or the birthplace of the guy who invented the alto clef. I want to experience the ancient (and Alexandria of the 1600s doesn't cut it), eat tasty foods, and see exotic vistas and architecture -- to be a foreigner on the outside looking in, away from the comfort of my home office with a cat in my lap.

In addition to these artistic goals, Paige has been bugging me to go to Spain and visit her ever since she and her husband moved there on March 18, 2006 to escape the military coup in Houston, Texas. Despite that, it took me until last summer to even get my passport, a slow and steady process that can take anywhere from one to six months. The day that it arrived last September was probably the first day I considered a Europe trip to be a tangible goal.

Rebecca and I had been talking about going to Europe for a few months, and our interest was further whetted by a Thanksgiving visit from Paige, who proceeded to give us eight million Europe-related bookmarks to read, and recommended the detailed city maps of Rick Steves (who is not related to Rick James or Steve James). Even then though, it was very easy to say "let's go to Europe next year" and not make any real progress. We finally issued the ultimatum that we would have plane tickets purchased by the end of 2007.

To do this, the first thing we thought about was what we DEFINITELY had to see while there, and what sort of budget we could have. Countrywise, we definitely wanted to go to Spain (so Rebecca could use her newly-learned Spanish to guide me around) and France (so I could resurrect my high school French, pieced together with random catch phrases from Alizée pop songs). For a third country, it was a toss-up between Great Britain and Italy. We wanted to go for at least two weeks, so we wouldn't be rushing around all the time, and wanted to try and meet a budget of $3000 per person. With this in mind, we looked at plane tickets.

We used various online travel sites like travelocity and expedia to determine which city it would be cheapest to fly into and whether weekends vs. weekdays mattered. We ultimately settled on nonstop flights to London (which eliminated Italy from our travel plans). This was also good because we'd be able to ease into the foreignicity in a country with English as the main language. We also found that it was cheaper to get a quick flight back to England to fly home, rather than get two one-way tickets from our start and end countries.

Based on the cost of the bookend plane tickets, we did some number crunching and figured that we could spend sixteen days in Europe (at $100 a day) after setting aside $1200 on major travel. We picked 3/31 - 4/15 as our window and suddenly we had the skeleton of a Europe trip in hand! We'll start in London on the 1st of April, and ultimately need to be Barcelona by the 14th.

Our next step is to determine how we'll be travelling in the middle. We're leaning towards the expensive $200 Eurostar train that travels from London to Paris in two hours which will cut back on our later travel budget. In France, we're thinking about getting the unlimited train pass, which will free us from calculating every train price, and will also give us a ready-made list of cities we can plan to visit for free. The downside of this is that we probably wouldn't make it out to some of our "Wishlist" places like Mont St. Michel, the abbey on the beach that becomes an island at high tide. I have always been a Brest man myself, but we might have to consider more southern cities like Montpelier.

If you have travelled in Europe, what are your thoughts on train passes?

Happy Birthday to Sam and Lisa!

Pope's exorcist squads will wage war on Satan
Y'all fat, and y'all eat too much
Men get a smokin' tattoo

tagged as travel | permalink | 10 comments

Monday, January 03, 2011

In this building, we learned that the art of driving an SUV on the Beltway has not changed noticeably since colonial times.

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

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

List Day: Accomplishments So Far This Year

  • Successfully syringed a dose of cat drugs into Booty's mouth without spilling a drop

  • Watched an entire disc of the first season of Community

  • Won and lost at Mille Bornes

  • Won at Settlers of Catania

  • Made hot pepper beef stir fry in an electric wok

  • Lost at UPS-opoly

  • Learned about GML application schemas

  • Had tempranillo

  • Went hiking at Ravens' Rocks

  • Crossed the state line into West Virginia

  • Ate a Sauteed 'Shroom Burger at Red Robin

  • Atrophied most of my brain cells sitting through the premiere of The Bachelor

  • Read 64 pages of the NIEM Naming and Design Rules for work

  • Ordered a treadmill

tagged as lists | permalink | 3 comments

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel:
This movie about seven elderly Brits choosing to spend their retirement in India was better than expected, but it also might be because my expectations for any movie set in India are so negatively low after The Darjeeling Limited. Great performances from well-known actors, a predictable plot, and a light-hearted feeling make this a movie I enjoyed watching, but will probably have no recollection of in two years time.

Final Grade: B-

Chuck, Season Five:
The final season of Chuck is only 13 episodes long, and (with nothing to lose) the writers push the plot forward faster than ever before (almost Homeland-fast). In my opinion though, it went too fast, and the last handful of episodes felt more like filler than a culmination of the story. I was definitely not sold on the slightly ambiguous finale, but "at least it was better than LOST". I also just learned that there is an extended cut of the finale that might solve some problems which I'll have to check out when Rebecca gets this far in the show. Regardless and irregardless, I recommend the entire five-season set, as it manages to satisfy without any character assassinations, awful twists, or faked drama (see Alias, season 3, 4, and 5).

Final Grade: B

Anna Karenina:
We saw this movie on Christmas Eve, as it was the only movie in theatres that Rebecca's parents hadn't seen yet. I have never read a single work of Russian literature (although I did read the unabridged Les Mis twice), but the plot is easy enough to follow, in spite of the legions of unnamed white actors that all look alike. The movie is artistically filmed as a stage play, sometimes breaking the fourth wall or having actors change settings by walking through backstage props or raising curtains. This is very cute, but needlessly muddles plot comprehension. Overall, this is a downer of a movie with an unsympathetic main character that you could probably pass on. Also, Keira doesn't close her mouth.

Final Grade: C-

Act Your Age by Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band:
I heard some of Gordon Goodwin's big band arrangements on my Sammy Nestico Pandora station, and asked for any one of his CDs for Christmas. This is a solid, tight mix of swing, fusion, and funk which is eminently listenable, except for one flute song that seems to go on forever. The CD also comes with a bonus DVD of live concert footage and full transcriptions of improvised solos.

Final Grade: A-

tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments

Friday, January 03, 2014

Auricle Day

Today, I have released v0.1.0 of Auricle, a free, open-source resource for mastering music fundamentals and ear training skills. Weighing in at 86 hours of development effort, the initial release is pretty bare bones: you can login, and practice with a single fundamentals topic (Basic Notation). However, laying out the frameworks and infrastructure is the hardest part, so I should be able to make faster progress on future exercises.

The first exercise is a "see" exercise, which is essentially a multiple-choice quiz. Future exercises will also include "hear" exercises, for pitch and interval recognition, and "play" exercises, for keyboard input.

You can give it a try with these instructions:

  1. Login at the Auricle website (username: demo / password: auricledemo).
  2. When the map of Basics Bayou appears, click on the Basic Notation exercise.
  3. Click on Review to quickly refresh your memory on everything that might be in the test: clefs, note durations, etc.
  4. When you are ready, go back and click on Begin.
  5. Answer a series of 25 randomized questions to see how much you've retained or forgotten about music fundamentals.

In future releases, I plan on adding more exercises along with all sorts of score / history visualizations, metrics, social badges, and gamification featuers. Feedback is welcomed!

tagged as music, programming | permalink | 1 comment

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken ten years ago, on New Year's Eve 2007 - 2008.

We dressed up fancily and went to Chris and Kathy's townhouse in Centreville for "fancy New Year's poker". We each ponied up $10 ostentatiously and lost with equal verve. As the game progressed without us, I played with Lake and Titan (the gay kitty brothers) on the stairs to the basement. If I recall correctly, the number of kids at this New Years party was between 0 and 1.

tagged as memories | permalink | 0 comments

Friday, January 03, 2020

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Easter is Cancelled by The Darkness:
This is another solid release from The Darkness, which has sailed past its early novelty hype and drug issues to be a consistent hard rock band. There's a good mix of styles here, all unified by the voice of the lead singer.

Final Grade: B+

Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi:
I enjoyed Episode 7 on a popcorn level and finally got around to watching this one. It felt interminable while I watched it, with no real plot line and nothing to recommend it. An entire subplot of this movie involved in a failed mission that has no bearing on the overall plot. There's too much blatantly obvious CGI (which shouldn't even be happening in 2019). It's clear that the writers had no faith in their story because they interject a sly self-aware wisecrack every 5 seconds that's funny at the expense of cheapening the overall narrative. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: D+

Chicken Sandwich:
I finally got a chance to try this mystical sandwich, at a mall Popeyes with very little through traffic. It's just a sandwich, not significantly better than Chick-fila. The chicken is breaded with the signature Popeyes crispiness, but the unique taste is overwhelmed by mayonnaise. Having two pickles on the sandwich is kind of nice.

Final Grade: C

Billy on the Street:
This bizarre comedy show involves Billy Eichner running through the streets of New York, challenging passerby to quiz games and random challenges. You will like the first episode as much as you like Billy Eichner, and then each one you watch within the same 24 hours slightly less. It's great when you need a show that delivers laughs while requiring zero brain activity at the end of the night, but it quickly overstays its welcome and is definitely not binge material. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B-

tagged as reviews | permalink | 3 comments

Monday, January 03, 2022

Interview Day: Maia Edition

Wisdom at age 4 and a half

This is an update to Maia's previous interview.

What is your favourite color?

"Pink!"

What is your favourite movie?

"Frozen 2."

What is your favourite food?

"Chocolate."

What is your favourite drink?

"Chocolate milk."

Who is your favourite bunny?

"Original Bunny!"

What is your favourite activity?

"Building bunny towns."

What do you like to play?

"Mario Kart, even though I'm taking a break from it right now."

What is your favourite planet in the solar system?

(After I listed all the planets...) "When you said Pluto, you should have said 'Dwarf Planet Pluto'. That's how I say it."

What is your favourite holiday?

"Halloween 'cause I get yummy candies."

What is your favourite book?

"Last night I pulled out the book about the spooky old tree and I pretended it was The Spooky Old Carrot by saying 'Three little bunnies and the spooky old carrot'."

What is your favourite outside activity?

"I like to ride my new bike!"

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

"I like my new slippers!"

tagged as offspring | permalink | 1 comment

 

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