This Day In History: 01/04
I'm back in Tallahassee, the land where people turn on red from middle lanes and where they advertise sales that ended the day before. The break was good for me -- I read some books and watched some movies, but most of my time was spent finishing up my thesis. I finally completed the music back on December 28, so this month will be occupied with editing and correcting the visual score. If you have an eye for detail and want to make a few bucks, give me a holler and you can help proofread later in the month.
There's also a MIDI file on the Music Page (under Volume III) for people without a cable modem, but your sound card may convert the extramusical effects into something zany like a seashore. The piece is written for: 2 flutes (1 doubling piccolo), oboe, alto sax (doubling soprano), bassoon, trumpet, 2 horns, trombone, tuba, 2 violins, cello, bass, and 2 percussion. There are nine continuous movements:
A married couple in Beijing, China, ended up brawling after realizing they had unwittingly courted each other over the Internet. After a month of secret online flirting, the man arranged to meet up with his mystery girlfriend, only to discover it was his wife. They each agreed to carry a certain newspaper to identify themselves but were shocked when they came face to face and started fighting in the street. Passerby eventually alerted security guards, who had to separate the two. - ananova.com
Today has been a rather slow day. We had a whole bunch of people over last night and got a slow start this morning. Booty climbed halfway up my screen door when she wanted to come back inside -- much like this . I had to pull her down since she no longer meets the weight restrictions for screen climbing.
The weather outside is high humid sixties. I thought I'd abandoned such climes when I left Florida.
Yesterday's notable search terms:
bare feet on the dashboard, theme from a-team ringtones, the irritating music of brian uri, brian uri is short, brian uri is a shrimp, sulking squirrels, brian uri is not good at piano, brian uri makes noise, brian uri remove all of your clothing for me, brian uri is a squirrel, brian uri likes alias too much, Nikole Giraldi, giraldi music vocal
This is the problem with democracy.From the "Stupid things to make movies about" department
It's been over seven months since I could last pester people to watch Alias, so I'm sure everyone is happy to know that the fourth season starts tomorrow night with a two hour premiere at 9 PM on ABC. If you enjoy smart, well-written television at all, you should be soaking up both Alias and Lost (which airs immediately before it at 8). The shows have the same sensibilities, being produced by J.J. Abrams, the man who plans to make Mission Impossible 3 a character story, but are incredibly different in their execution.
Lost is halfway through its season already, but has the benefit of being ridiculously popular with all viewers. Maybe Alias will do better, now that it has a compatible lead-in, and not ABC's The Wonderful World of Disney. It's really not as complex a show as everyone makes out to be -- it's just a show that rewards habitual watching and having an emotional investment in the characters.Stars Align for 'Alias' in New Wednesday Slot
This picture is titled, "When the Owner is Away...", and depicts the internal ethical struggle cats must face when their owner is off at Ruby Tuesday eating chicken fingers and their wild friend (who we can hypothetically call "Sydney" since it's an all-American name) suggests that they throw a party. What these teenager cats don't realize is that they will go to jail when caught, and then get shipped off to a boarding home for juvenile purrpetrators where they'll have to play with a dog and only get to eat twice a day.
Roughly forty percent of my meals in the past five days have been restaurant food, which is not good for the pocketbook or the waistline, but it was a necessity from entertaining so many women of upstanding morals. I lunched at McDonald's on Friday then dined at Subway on Saturday, followed by a mistimed trip to McDonald's on Sunday when we thought they were still serving breakfast (we tried IHOP but it was bulging at the seams like a Manassas townhouse violating their new family statutes). On Monday night, Florida-Kathy and Not-From-Florida-Chris came over and cooked me some pasta with French bread (and some mixed vegetables, but those were just for show, like parsley), after which we played another fun geeky game like Settlers of Catania, called Carcassonne (not the heavy metal band). Last night, I went out to eat with Anna & Ben, fresh from their Big City Adventure, and Virginia-Tech-Jen, who's turning into Indiana-Jen as the years go by.
Speaking of years going by, my mom retired from the FAA yesterday, so I will most likely have to increase the length of my posts, since she won't have anything to do all day long. Alternately I can just take my shelf full of TV Shows on DVD and dump them by her TV while she's sleeping. That should buy her several hundred hours of entertainment. As for my own TV shows, I'm nearing the end of Alias Season 4 and I've got Scrubs Season 2 coming in the mail. Alias was seriously good again by the end of the 4th season -- too bad they had to poop on excellence by rewriting the whole history of the show in the finale's last three minutes. Even if you hate the concept of Alias, you should at least watch Tuesday from Season Four, where Sydney gets buried alive in Cuba, and Facade from Season Three, both standalone episodes requiring very little "show knowledge" that show the show in its top show form. The latter stars Ricky Gervais from The Office and his acting chops as a terrorist from the IRA are ridiculous when you consider that Alias was only his second show ever, and not quite the comedy he was in before.
Hopefully after the show's cancelled, all the Alias actors can get new gigs since they're great dramatic actors (sharing sheets with Ben Affleck does not count as a gig though). Maybe Marshall can crash-land on the LOST island to take the place of drunken-driving Michelle Rodriguez who will apparently have to return to Los Angeles to serve jail time since her Hawaii DUI was like her third offense. I hope when the time comes for her to go to jail, they send her off in a magnificently final way -- maybe the survivors run out of food and eat her for brunch: bad for the waistline but great for ratings.Pro Bono: Bono worries that he talks too much politics
The elementary school Safety Patrol program is a hands-on extracurricular activity designed to teach our budding citizens-students about the inefficiency of bureaucracy and the futility of law enforcement and positive change. Each member of the Safety Patrol is given an appallingly orange belt, no doubt stamped out of a much larger, yet still appallingly orange skin of vinyl, probably left over from the previous year's reupholstering of the school buses. The clasps are too loose for the skinny kids who break the curve on the body fat test (and too tight for the chubby buggers of Today's America) while the shoulder harness is pocked with pin marks from students incapable of affixing their badge at the proper height. Armed with this belt and a Cliff Notes book of school rules, the patrols are sent out on one of two dangerous assignments.
The drones of the organization end up in school hallways, given the power to yell "WALK!" but unable to reprimand students who don't, like a particularly zany game of Red Light Green Light. These drones often burn out quickly on being a patrol and probably end up highly sought in high school by unscruplous military recruiters in need of cannon fodder. Those that pass this initial round of hallway abuse get promoted to the assignment of standing at intersections to escort kids across the street. This is a choice assignment, not because it requires responsibility and diligence, but because you get out of school early every day so you can get to your street corner before the cattle call.
Street corner Safety Patrols actually have the easiest job in the world, because they always play second fiddle to an adult crossing guard in a uniform that actually reflects light. (The reflective properties of the Safety Patrol belt are minimal after years of use, but you can roll it up tightly into a sling and then smack someone across the head with the aforementioned badge). Evidently, most school systems would much rather trust their childrens' lives to the 60-year-old retiree than the sixth-grader who can barely remember to carry the 1. So, the Safety Patrol sits on the corner, his job to keep students from running into the street while the REAL crossing guard stops traffic and escorts the tykes across.
If they really want to break your spirit, they will assign you as a patrol at a completely useless intersection. You can always tell this is the case because the site is not deemed important enough to have a real crossing guard. In my first year as a stalwart Safety Patrol, I got the T intersection next to a forest, which meant there was just a single crosswalk of interest. The crosswalk spanned a dead end street, so no cars ever drove by, but it didn't matter anyhow since no one ever walked this way. The reason? There was another elementary school three blocks over, and this street was the dividing line between school districts. The only people that would ever cross my street went to the other school!
Because this was such a dangerous and crucial outpost of Safety Patroldom, they even assigned two of us to stand there, rain or shine, waiting for kids to cross who never came. Like all good little bureaucrats, we made up a game instead which involved kicking piles of raked leaves against a chain link fence in high winds, to see how much of the fence we could cover before the wind died down again. This game was also the cause of all the demerits I racked up that year, given out by the power-hungry Captain.
Yes, the Safety Patrols have Captains, and Lieutenants and Sergeants, even though the kids holding those offices couldn't even spell those terms. The Captains were always one boy and one girl (take that sexism), generally the students who would end up voted "Most Likely to Intern for a Representative as a Stepping Stone to the White House" in high school. Their job description was to maintain efficiency within the unit, though their actual job involved handing out demerits to underlings who hung their badges wrong or wore their belts with a twist in the fabric instead of neatly starched as God intended.
Kicking leaves against a fence is worth one demerit. Two the second time you do it. The life lesson I walked away with was this: Your boss can't fire you for insubordination if your boss' boss thinks you are a-okay.
Happy Birthday Jon Kula!Cooper, 21, who was the yellow piece, continually provided wrong answers, resulting in over intoxication.
at least 75% as tasty as Tuesday Tenders
♠ I'm highly satisfied with my new Canon Powershot A650 IS. Taking quality pictures is so simple that a handicapped three-toed sloth (hence, it has one toe) could do it, and the batteries last for several days of heavy usage before requiring a recharge. The only negative (note the photography pun) I've found so far is that the memory card is inserted into the battery compartment, which makes it slightly more annoying than normal to switch it out.
♠ The picture below was taken at the Baltimore Aquarium last weekend, using the camera's special "Aquarium" setting (one of several special settings that includes Fireworks, Underwater, Indoors, and Psychotic Mime). I did nothing more than crop it and shrink it down to fit on my page.
♠ The Aquarium was incredibly crowded for a weekend with crappy frigid rain in crappy Baltimore, and the tanks that had the particular fish from the movie, Finding Nemo, were particularly swarmed. You could hear soccer moms from miles around shouting, "Creighton, stop riding the moving walkways and come look at Dori! Look it's Dori!" On one hand, it's nice that a movie elevates the status of nature, but on the other hand, fish are cool enough without having to refer to them by cartoon names.
♠ We considered bringing back some souvenir fish for Booty, but the aquarium security frowned upon it.
♠ For Christmas, Rebecca got Amber a frou-frou specially-designed toy mouse. I was skeptical at first, since these gimmicks are akin to putting fruit in beer and selling it as Tequiza, but Amber has played with it every single day since Christmas for ten to twenty minutes a day (without any nudging from me!) I haven't regularly been enthralled with a toy since I cancelled my World of Warcraft account a year ago.
♠ Speaking of WoW, I reactivated my account last month after reading a blog post by Sam about recent changes made to the game. I bought another month to check in with my old WoW friends to see what they were up to. When I canceled during the crazy work months in 2006, I never expected to come back to it (unlike some players that are habitual cancellers like Jaood and Dokta). I especially should never have given away that 1000g to people in my guild. However, just a couple games of 59-Twink Warsong Gulch were enough to make me miss the game in general, and I now have an additional three months, and a level 34 Druid powering its way up to the expansion pack.
♠ I justify this diversion in two ways: 1) After I re-finish the third season of LOST, I'll be out of TV shows to watch (since I don't have cable) and 2) Rebecca is going on a month-long trip in February so I'll need something to do in the interim.
♠ This weekend, I'll be hosting the first URI! Poker game of 2008, where all of 2007's scores are wiped clean for a new generation of suckage. Since playing in the basement is a toss up between frostbitten balls or exorbitant heating fees, the game will be held in my kitchen, which can only hold about six players before people start contracting the tuberculosis from their neighbours.
♠ Have a great weekend!Holy smoke in nunnery tops 2007 weird news
For this New Years weekend, we took a trip down to Colonial Williamsburg which was a very good balance of traveling between "way too much time spent in the car" and "let's get Boston Market for dinner tonight". The temperature stayed in the 60s the whole time (and obviously all of the snow had melted by the time we arrived).
We shacked up at the Magnolia Manor, one of seven thousand Bed and Breakfasts within walking distance of William & Mary, notable for its gigantic whirlpool bath tubs and staff that walked a comfortable path of being accessible without hanging around all of the time. The three basic food groups for each morning's breakfast were potatoes, eggs, and bacon, in various permutations. This is a definite "win" in my book of successful breakfasts.
After a dinner of five shared sangrias and a prime rib cooked so rare that it was linked in a blue font, we participated in the Williamsburg "First Night" activities: a set of community musical performances at various venues around town. First up was an Native American storyteller, followed by a pleasant community swing band with more verve than talent. We opened the new year by watching the fireworks display from the comfort of our room, since they were launched just two blocks away from our window.
On Saturday, we wandered through all of the parts of Colonial Williamsburg that did NOT require us to pay the ridiculous $36 admission fee and had giant, greasy sandwiches at Paul's Deli. We saw deer gallivanting in the fields around the Governor's Palace by moonlight, and ate all of the samples in the Peanut Shop. Finally, we returned to our swank two-room suite at the Manor and played multiple two-player variants of Settlers of Catan, where I got lots of sheep.
How did your 2010 turn out?Did 4 bosses shirk snow duty and buy beer?
When I entered the 7th grade, I decided to try recording my dreams. I kept pen and paper on the nightstand next to my bed, and trained myself to immediately record keywords from my dream as soon as I woke up in the middle of the night or the next morning.
By the time I graduated from high school and wisely decided to end the habit before I received a stranger as a college roommate, I had filled in two columns on 21 pages in Courier New 10 point font. For the most part, the entries are cryptic and vague when viewed twenty years later, but the occasional keyword definitely triggers vivid memories from parts of these dreams.
Here is a small sampling from my dream sheet:
Plane/Fly/Science Fair/Comp Game
School/Tale of Two Cities/Shadow in the North
Gym/Tim/Band/Eternal Coin Phone
Hammond was my junior high school. Additionally, I had the dream about chasing panthers through a swamp on two separate occasions.PETA seeks memorials to cows killed on Ill. roads
Back in October, I started keeping track of people trying to cheat on their ear training homework and came away with about thirty cheaters in a month. I kept monitoring through the end of the year, because as every music professor knows, most cheaters don't start cheating on their ear training until the night before a semester's worth of work is due.
Sure enough, I had over 120 cheaters by the end of the year. The "Other" wedge of the pie consists of single hits from various universities, including Florida State and Wake Forest. Any named wedge had at least 2 distinct users trying to look for cheats. In the meantime, Ball State University continued to be the number one place where students try to cheat on their ear training assignments. Perhaps they should put that on the brochure for new freshmen.
To kick off 2016, we took a trip out to Sperryville and Shenandoah National Park. On Friday night, we sampled new beers at the Hopkins Ale Works and found two smash hits -- a Belgian Trippel and a Winter Ale which were each good in a different way. We then ate a satisfying dinner at the Headmaster's Pub around the corner. Although it was just pub food, it was better than first impressions of the restaurant might indicate. We stayed in the "Thyme" room that night, and it was easily the warmest, winter-friendly room of the lot.
On Saturday, after a breakfast of Eggs Hopkins (eggs with fresh arugula on broiled toast), we did an 8.9 mile hike near Skyline Drive, starting from Panorama and going past Mary's Rock. The views were spectacular since all of the greenery was gone, but the temperature reached a high of just 43 F. It was cold enough that we had to make life-altering decisions at lunchtime as to whether we should eat our Subway sandwiches with frozen bare hands or get mayonnaise on our gloves.
On Sunday, Rebecca did some yoga things while I got ready to dive back into the world of software engineering. We did a few errands like exchanging an empty propane tank and buying me a new suit to replace the suit with giant gold buttons I've worn since high school, and then made fresh tacos for dinner.
Overall, it was a solid start to the new year. The jury is still out on whether frontloading your year with out-of-the-ordinary events is the right move -- either you keep raising the bar throughout the year as you seek the next high and have a fantastic year, or you eventually run out of things to do and start walking under the bar (or fall asleep at the bar).
Next weekend is my company party and, in a ridiculous race to top themselves each year, they have rented out an entire club in downtown DC. To maintain a linear increase in January weekend enjoyment, I'm going to need to win a self-driving car in a lottery I didn't enter on the third weekend, and discover a cache of pirate doubloons that allows me to permanently retire from work on the fourth.
How was your weekend?
In 1988, I was 8 going on 9 and finishing out a successful 4th grade year. We had our first Family Life class, where all the boys went with Mr. Cmiel to learn about the vas deferens while all of the girls went next door with Mrs. Sharkey. At recess, our favorite game was to fill the tire swing with as many kids as possible and push it as high as possible until the inevitable bloody nose when kids fell out at the highest point. Our favorite game after they took down the tire swing was finding bumblebees pollinating dandelions and kicking them as hard as possible (we probably accelerated the eventual extinction of bees by thirty years). I also had my first crush on my childhood friend, Jennie, although I never did anything about it.
Over the summer, we were babysat during the day by the mean lunch lady, who was actually very nice outside of school. She pretty much let us run amok in the Winkler Botanical Preserve which backed up to her apartment in the Hamlets (even though we weren't technically allowed to be out unsupervised).
In the fall, my sister matriculated up to 7th grade in Junior High and I started 5th grade in Mr. Ferris' class. He was a no-nonsense teacher who gave out 250-word punishment essays if you talked when you weren't supposed to (after a couple warnings and tics on the blackboard). I got exactly two punishments in my tenure but probably deserved many more for being a smartass.
My obsession at the time was to create my own mazes that I could DM people through during the ever-popular "lunch maze" session. Because of my internship with mean lunch lady (Ms. Skelly) over the summer, I had a prime spot at the "good" table, where we were allowed to talk even when the loudness traffic light turned red.
In gym, I sucked at everything on the Presidental Physical Fitness Exam except for Sit N' Reach, for which I was in the 100th percentile. I also started playing cornet in the band (because my hands were too tiny for a trumpet) which got me in trouble with my science teacher whose class I missed once a week to go to band. She was an ornery old lady that actually called my mom to inform her that I was missing too many classes and didn't deserve the A I was earning.
For a look at my social circle, here's the (previously-posted) video of my 9th birthday party.
There are no major spoilers in these reviews.
Simulation Theory by Muse:
Muse's latest album is solid all of the way through, and one I keep putting back on in the car. A good mix of their classic hard rock style blended with their more recent electronica, and no wannabe-student-composer movie symphonies to be found anywhere!
Final Grade: B+
Ready Player One (PG-13):
This is about as good of an adaptation one could make of the original book -- telling the tale of a virtual treasure hunt in an online world where everyone in a dystopian future spends their time. The plot felt a bit rushed even though the movie still felt a bit too long, but it hit all of the right high points without been too enslaved by the source material. As usual, the portions of the movie that took place in the real world were more emotionally investing than the video game parts. I enjoyed that the movie was chock full of pop culture references, but strategically placed so you could enjoy them if you got them and not get beaten over the head with them otherwise. Subtle musical cues by Alan Silvestri (calling back to the era where his big budget successes, such as Back to the Future were composed) were particularly nice.
Final Grade: B
Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle:
I read this book about group dynamics for work -- its a fast read with some very interesting, yet shallow, anecdotes about famous successful teams, such as Pixar and the Navy Seals. I don't think the book is as actionable as it purports to be -- it would seem that a lot of the successful group dynamics originate from a particular personality or some naturally-occurring baseline allowed to flourish.
Final Grade: B-
Silicon Valley, S4:
This was a great season, with episodes bouncing from conflict to conflict for maximum comedic potential without allowing any one idea to become stale. No character felt overused, and the plot had a nice, complete feel to it.
Final Grade: B+
Ian is only 4 months away from turning 2. He owns strong opinions, a loud, raucous voice, and way too many cars and trucks. His favourite foods are Belvita crackers (blueberry not cranberry orange), YoBaby yogurt, and waffles. He's gotten in the habit of throwing food on the floor when he's done eating -- we're trying hard not to react to it.
He doesn't like it when I touch his hair so his haircuts proceed at one snip per day, usually while he's distracted by yogurt. I've only cut the front and sides, enough to keep the yogurt away.
His sense of pitch continues to be outstanding, and you can always tell what he's trying to sing. He's particularly partial to "Rumble Rumble Dinosaur" which he sings any time he sees a dinosaur on a bib or outfit. He knows many words and is good at mimicking your words if you ask him too. His names for the family are: Dada, Mama, MaiMai, Nana (for Nana or Grandma), and Baba (for Grandpa).
He still loves wheels and anything with wheels. He has decided that the gear icon representing "Settings" on my phone is a wheel. He likes spotting the moon at night too -- we have a traditional call and response litany that we go through each night:
BU: Is it dark outside?
BU: The sun went down.
BU: Do you see the moon?
The last line is typically a lie as it's too cloudy outside.
The cutest thing he does at the moment is really getting into the nighttime routine. After getting pajamas on, he runs into the kitchen for dessert (" 'andy bucket!"). After brushing teeth, he runs into Maia's for stories ("Stoy time!"). He sleeps through the night (after a few brief hiccups in November and December) usually from 7 PM to 7:30 AM, with a 1.5 - 2.5 hour afternoon nap.
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