This Day In History: 01/07

Monday, January 07, 2002

It's time for the first day of classes. Being the stereotypical grad student, I only have one real class today, Pedagogy of Music Theory II, which is supposed to cover form and ear training. It'll be taught by a different professor than the first section but should hopefully be just as interesting as the first semester.

I don't have any bigresolutions for this new semester. Mainly, I want to get at least an hour and a half of practicing time in daily, and block off a couple of hours a day to get back into a composing regimen. I'd like to work a little faster this semester, and have more to show at the end of the day. Last semester was technically an orientation semester, but I still think I could have done a little more than I ended up doing. I also still have three side projects that are on the back burners: the Ewazen MIDI transcription, the Augmented Fourth game update, and the PRIMA programming project.

"I only know two tunes. One of them is 'Yankee Doodle' and the other isn't." - Ulysses S. Grant

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Tuesday, January 07, 2003

I took a trip through Cawthon, the musicians' country club, yesterday and it's amazing how much money they put into the place. The building is a combination of dorm rooms, classrooms, and practice rooms, so incoming music majors can focus on music with fewer distractions. Beyond card-locked doors, across hardwood floors, and through a piano lounge nearly the size of Monaco, is a classroom with every technology known to man. With video and audio solutions and both a PC and a Mac, this classroom could probably teach by itself. There's even a document scanner that you can use to display your hand and other useful body parts on the overheard projector in real-time.

Of course, my other section is in a giant rehearsal room that can easily hold one hundred people. It has no permanent sound system and a single chalkboard with no permanent staves. It'll be a challenge to teach both sections effectively without shortchanging the latter class.

I've always been a little doubtful of the all-in-one experiments that schools try to keep students on track. The most meaningful parts of college are the outside interactions, and if students have no impetus to get out and about, they just miss out. It's as if the slogan is "Come to college for life experience; just stay in this room until it's done though."

P.S. The chalkboard eraser in 102 is friggin' huge. You could erase me with it.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2004

From time to time when I have nothing better to talk about, I'll be posting brief clips of music that I particularly like -- not necessarily the entire work, but a clever turn of phrase or motive that pleases my ear. To start off this trend:

A canon from a Tonight Show Band arrangement of Jumpin' at the Woodside, I first heard this around tenth grade or so. It's still my favourite piece of jazz counterpoint to date. (259KB MP3)

This is an excerpt from the Autumn in New York arrangement sung by the Hi-Lo's. I like the depiction of the words through music in "glittering crowds and shimmering clouds", and especially the shearing swell of the root in "canyons of steel". Also, the depiction of "mingled with pain" later on in the song is just perfect. (409KB MP3)

What do you think? Leave a note by clicking on the Comments link to the lower right.

Yesterday's notable search terms:

    map of the uri river, king's funeral procession

There were also quite a few searches for Turn of the Screw and Oedipus Rex -- looks like English teachers are at it again.

Parting with Playboys is collector's sweet sorrow
UPS will get you across the state line fast
'Hunter' snaps
The case for mandatory airport vaginal exams

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Audience Participation Day

Caption Contest

  • Submit a funny caption for the above photo. If the caption contains dialogue, make it clear who is speaking. Do not post your caption in the Comments section.
  • All URI! Zone visitors are eligible to enter, even if you're nothing more than a shifty lurker. All entries will be posted for voting next week, and the most popular entry will win a $10 gift certificate to
  • I will not vote on entries, but I have the final say in case of ties, brawls, or shoddy, vague, inarticulate rules.
  • Entries must be submitted by this Friday, January 11.
  • For examples of what is expected, you can look at previous contests involving Saddam Hussein , Steven Silverman , and sumo wrestlers .
  • Exploding dog causes crematorium blaze
    Ravers stuck dancing for days
    Celebrating Christmas every day

    tagged as contests | permalink | 0 comments

    Wednesday, January 07, 2009

    Stuff in My Drawers Day: Letters of Recommendation

    When I was at Florida State pretending to know something about music composition, I had a top secret source who worked in the music office and lived with Chompy pilfer the secret letters of recommendation from my permanent file.

    It's interesting that one of the most impressive skills on my resum? at the time was that I could use Finale to notate music -- so the tunes may have sounded like rats walking through peanut butter, but they looked really pretty. This is similar to my grad school experience, which can be boiled down to the fact that I was the guy who popularized the Technical font. I remember the time I gave a pedagogical presentation on enharmonic modulation, after which Dr. Spencer used most of the question/answer period to talk about how "sharply dressed" my font was.

    The other aspect my professors discussed was my prolific output, which roughly translates as "I hate editing". As soon as a score was complete and printed out on my HP LaserPaperJam 4, I'd start fleshing out the next idea so I wouldn't have to deal with glaring problems in the previous one.

    Of course, for every great letter of recommendation you can elicit, you also get the one from the Rolling Rock loving professor who would open his Musical Survey class by starting Wozzeck and leaving the room without any explanation or introduction, in hopes of making most of the students drop the class so he'd have fewer grades to deal with. Apparently, he didn't think too highly of our curriculum -- not the entire curriculum per se, just the theory, literature, and history sides of things. I think I'll use this letter as the scapegoat for not getting into Indiana University.

    Child elopers "Africa plan" foiled
    Burglar scared off by Thor
    Victim Forcibly Stripped in Bizarre Pentagon City Robbery

    tagged as random, teaching | permalink | 4 comments

    Thursday, January 07, 2010

    Review Day

    There are no spoilers in these reviews.

    Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog:
    This succinct musical by Joss Whedon (about the length of an episode of 24) was originally posted as a series of short web episodes, and tells the tale of Dr. Horrible's attempts to join the Evil League of Evil. It sometimes teeters on the line dividing funny from lame, but it's short and mostly clever. You can't go wrong with a Neil Patrick Harris vehicle, and it's also fun to watch Nathan Fillion (of Firefly) as Captain Hammer.

    Final Grade: B-

    Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks by Ethan Gilsdorf:
    This book, written by a former D&D addict turned 40, explores various roleplaying outlets (from table-top games to Live Action to World of Warcraft) in search of the answers to why people play games. There are no revelations in here, and the author's attempts to tie his research directly to his own life work surprisingly less often than expected, but it's a reasonably interesting read. Having not done anything in this book other than play computer games, I might not be the target audience, but it feels like anyone outisde of this world could read the book and understand the jargon.

    Final Grade: B-

    All I knew going into this movie was what was shown in the trailers: an old man floats away in a balloon-driven house with a kid stowing away on his front porch. I was pleasantly surprised with the rest of the movie, although the "dog collar" idea is almost one step too far, even for a world where a house can fly. I actually ended up liking this movie MORE than Wall-E.

    Final Grade: A

    Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost:
    When I run out of other books, I end up reading a lot of Rebecca's, whose tastes range more towards humourous memoirs and travelogues rather than the latest post-humous Michael Crichton novel (which I picked up at Costco last week and am slightly scared to begin, because what does Crichton know about pirates, and why would he leave a completed manuscript in his desk unless it sucked?). This book tells the tale of a typical D.C. couple who decides to relocate to the tiny island of Tarawa in the South Pacific for a few years. The book is overly wordy, much like any one of my News updates, but once you get into the rhythm of the prose, this is an enjoyable and fun read. I, myself, would never pick up and move to a place where I have to scrape decomposed geckos out of my water tank while swimming in poop-mottled oceans, but that doesn't mean it's not a worthwhile story.

    Final Grade: A-

    New strawberry crab discovered
    YouTube attacked by porn
    Police seek woman who trashed McDonald's

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 5 comments

    Friday, January 07, 2011

    Friday Fragments

    antidisestablished in 1983

    ♠ Happy New Year! We've got one full week down in 2011, but there's still no sign of flying cars or people on Mars. Obviously, pop culture movies are not a good foreteller of the future. Thinking back to 1997, I don't believe that Skynet was anywhere near sentient, although I may have seen a few Eliza clones in one of the chatrooms I used to frequent.

    ♠ Since I knew the original Terminator 2 movie by heart, it was a little jarring to watch to special edition with about 20 minutes of extra footage recently. For the most part, the additions actually improved the final picture, although the beginning dragged a little too much.

    ♠ They also cut out a whole sequence which explained why this particular Terminator was able to learn new concepts -- it seems to me like that really should have stayed in the original movie, but maybe James Cameron didn't want to give away all of his secrets to the people who would eventually found the Roomba corporation.

    ♠ Now that the movie industry has made every possible sequel and used up all of the childrens' books (other that The Chronicles of Prydain starring Michael Gambon as Dallben), perhaps its time to start reimagining the old sci-fi movies with our current understandings of technology. For example, we probably won't be advanced enough to send a liquid metal Terminator back in time, so the villain would probably more closely resemble a really pissed off Zhu Zhu hamster.

    ♠ I had read The Chronicles of Prydain multiple times before I even left the third grade. I remember a girl in a sixth grade Talented and Gifted class complaining about "The High King" being too hard to read because "there are too many thee's and thou's in it!" I also owned the Sierra On-line version of The Black Cauldron for PC, and died many times on the obligatory Sierra cliff-climbing sequence.

    ♠ I think every Sierra game had at least one section where you had to ratchet game speed down to Slowest while you navigated a narrow path up or down a mountain. One pixel too far would send you tumbling to your death, but thankfully there were only 320x200 pixels to worry about.

    ♠ The most egregious offender in the "fall and die" approach to game challenge was King's Quest IV: Perils of Rosella. That helpless hussy could fall off a SINGLE STEP onto the grass and your game would be over. Wouldn't game designer, Roberta Williams, have been an apt candidate to dispel the myth that girls are fragile? Come on, Roberta!

    ♠ Plans for the weekend include a visit with Paige and Matt this evening before they wend their way back to Russia or Houston or wherever they camp now. Tomorrow, I'm going to fix a couple leaky toilets in the house (because I've had it up to here with poop on the floor?) and then we're heading to the post-Christmas party of i-less Page. We have no plans for Sunday yet, so maybe we'll plow through some of the many unwatched movies that seem to be on our shelves these days.

    ♠ Have a great weekend!

    Butt-dialing mistake sends SWAT team to Winnetka school
    Pet lovers hope to get new law on wills
    Zoo penguin enters the lions' den

    tagged as fragments | permalink | 3 comments

    Monday, January 07, 2013

    Weekend Wrap-up

    To celebrate the upcoming nuptials of Evil Mike, a subset of his groomsmen threw him in the trunk on Saturday and drove him to MagFest at the National Harbor. Contrary to his initial guess, "Mag" stands for "Music and Gaming" -- we were not taking him to a magazine show.

    MagFest was apparently a much bigger deal than I thought it was, with teeming masses of unwashed gamers flowing viscously through the massive hangar underneath the Gaylord Hotel. The convention center was packed with free arcade machines, consoles of every era, PCs, and even a wall full of Settlers of Catan and other nerd games with plenty of tabletop space available. This was my first "CON" experience outside of pictures on the Internet, and it was about what I expected.

    The only differences where that there were more women (about 20% of the attendees) and fewer costumes (only about 10% of the attendees). I saw the expected assortment of Zeldas and Marios, a bunch of anime characters that may have been popular (but I wouldn't know about because anime is lame), and a pretty cool group effort of the characters from Borderlands.

    After dinner at a pub that happened to have run out of every single lamb dish before our arrival, we dove back into the fray to hear some loud metal bands play video game music and some Skrillex clones dropping some beats through the synthesizer chips from the original Game Boy. We also spied on the LARP room to see if anyone was throwing Lightning Bolts, but it was unfortunately empty.

    Postscript: The Gaylord Hotel is a ridiculous behemoth, but I really hope that those inner-courtyard-facing windows are soundproofed, especially after 11 PM when that trumpet player dressed as Link was playing the first 8 bars of the Zelda theme over and over again.

    Post-Postscript: On the way home, I was pulled over on the Toll Road for going 65. Hide your wife and kids, lest I recklessly hit them. Luckily, it was a warning situation only.

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

    Tuesday, January 07, 2014

    Game Day: This Morning's Temperature

    Guess if the value in the left column is less than, equal to, or greater than this morning's temperature in Sterling, VA. Hover your mouse over the right column to see the correct answer.

    1The age of Anna's oldest daughter, Ella greater than (6)
    2The number of years since Mike (of Mike and Chompy) lived in New Hampshire.less than (2.5)
    3The number of Starbucks in a 2-mile radius of my houseequal (3)
    4The number of 3DS games I currently owngreater than (6)
    5The number of weeks since I had Popeyes for lunchequal (21 days = 3.0 weeks)
    6The number of times I played the trumpet over Christmas breakless than (2)
    7The number of offices I've had in my Reston work locationgreater than (4)
    8The number of times I've gone to DC this yearless than (0)
    9The number of football games involving Virginia Tech or FSU I watched in the past seasonless than (1)
    10The number of operational desktop computers in my houseequal (3)

    How'd you do?

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    Wednesday, January 07, 2015


    We got a pleasant couple inches of snow yesterday. I was already in the office by 5:30 before it wreaked havoc on traffic, with pictures of dive-bombing school buses and angry parents swarming the Internet. Meanwhile, Google Maps was doing its best to confuse colorblind commuters by making the "traffic stopped" and "traffic moving at the speed of light" colors super close together.

    I was mostly unaffected by the snow, although I did drive 2 MPH slower on the way home than I normally would. I also had to jump-start Rebecca's car at work, since she has the first world problem of having a one mile commute that is not conducive to retaining a battery charge in cold weather. All worked out in the end, since we made it home and ate corned beef for dinner.

    As snows go though, it was only so-s(n)o. For comparison's sake, we had over a foot and a half of snow nineteen years ago today, on January 7, 1996, during my senior year of high school. It snowed so much on that Sunday, that Alexandria City Public Schools preemptively closed school for the next three days, and would ultimately shut down for the entire week. Among the things I did to pass the time that week:

    • Built two igloos, both of which collapsed.

    • Went up to the elementary school playground at night for a snow fight, where three of my friends smoked pot while I "stood guard", amazed that people actually smoked pot outside of Degrassi Junior High.

    • Woke up each morning hoping that the federal government would be open so my parents would go to work, leaving us at home in solitude. Sadly, the government shut down all week too, so my dad played his tuba for five straight days (in the room with the computer and all of the games), while my mom watched the Weather Channel nonstop at full volume.

    • Played DOOM every day with Jack.

    • Gave multiple trumpet lessons to Ryan, the kid up the street, who had nothing better to do himself.

    tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 1 comment

    Thursday, January 07, 2016

    Review Day

    There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

    Recreational Love by Bird and the Bee:
    It's been five years since the last Bird and the Bee album, and this is a slick, catchy collection of new songs that are just as strong as anything previous. The songs feel a bit more mainstream here, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Jenny is a good representative of the rest of the album.

    Final Grade: B+

    Circus in the Sky by Bliss n Eso:
    Continuing my tour of Australian hip-hop groups, Bliss n Eso is a Pandora-recommended group from my Hilltop Hoods station. There's a few really good songs on the album, balanced out for a few too many "transition" tracks that aren't actually songs. Reservoir Dogs and Act Your Age (neither of which are safe for work) are among my favourites.

    Final Grade: B

    How to Get Away With Murder, Season One:
    This ABC show has a neat narrative structure, with simultaneous stories told on 3 separate timelines that ultimately tie together. There are some good twists, although a few are too clever for the sake of being clever (kind of like the first season of Damages). The show is held back by a bit too much reshowing of scenes already seen before, and the network "case of the week" structure really slows the pace down. These one-off cases are pointless and don't do anything to further the main mystery, but that mystery is just good enough to tolerate the downtime. Free on Netflix.

    Final Grade: B-

    John Mulaney: The Comeback Kid:
    John Mulaney's latest stand-up special is very strong, in spite of an unnecessary scripted intro. He's one of the better story-based comedians out there today and seeing his physicality as he jokes is much better than just listening to a CD. Free on Netflix.

    Final Grade: B

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 1 comment

    Monday, January 07, 2019

    Maia Month #18 Battle Report

    Maia is one 1.5 years old and more toddler than baby. She's heavy enough that I'm going to have to stop carrying her in an Ergo on our mall trips soon, and gets plenty of exercise running all over the house all day long. As part of her impending toddlership, she gets frustrated much more easily over simple things (coming inside because outside is amazing, not having all 3 of her stuffed animals during naptime, not being allowed to eat Mom's sushi, etc). She can do the signs for "more" and "done", and her default way of asking you to do more of anything is to make the sign while repeating "mo mo mo" over and over until you cave.

    Maia enjoys reading and scribbling, although she is less independent than before -- she'd rather watch you read and draw things than do it herself, and prefers to be in the same room if you sneak down the hall for a pint. Her stable of animal noises is rounding out nicely (she can "howl like a wolf" on command now) and she has gotten very good at identifying things in books then finding the real-life version in our house.

    We have a good rhythm of life going on right now, especially since I'm no longer waking up at midnight to do code stuff. Rebecca watches Maia in the morning while I write amazing prose. They go to the library for Storytime or Ridgetop Coffee for indoor playground time, meeting up with Maia's many library friends. After lunch, Maia naps for up to 2 hours while Rebecca and I relax, exercise, or catch up on life. I go on duty around 4 PM, doing things like mall visits, lake walks, and grocery runs until Rebecca gets home from work after 8 PM. Rebecca's parents visit weekly on Tuesdays, while I get over to my parent's house in Alexandria a couple times a month when Maia wakes up in time to miss rush hour.

    tagged as offspring | permalink | 0 comments

    Friday, January 07, 2022

    Review Day

    There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

    Michael McIntyre: Showman:
    This is a great set by British comedian, Michael McIntyre, featuring observational / storytelling humor. We really enjoyed his bit on Internet passwords. Free on Netflix.

    Final Grade: A

    Together Together (R):
    This is a quiet indie film about Ed Helms' character seeking a surrogate so he can raise a child on his own. The vibe is fairly mellow throughout and it rarely falls into the more obvious jokes and tropes one might expect.

    Final Grade: B-

    No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer:
    Books where the CEO of a company talks about why his company is so great are a dime a dozen. This one has some interesting stories (mixed into the obvious company rah-rah) that describe how Netflix continues to survive and pivot from its origins by increasing talent density and candor while removing rules and roadblocks.

    Final Grade: B-

    Golden Age by Woodkid:
    I picked this CD up based on Woodkid's contribution to the Arcane soundtrack. All of the songs are pretty interesting -- as if Cosmo Sheldrake, Muse, and Imagine Dragons collaborated to make video game music. Run Boy Run is a good representative track.

    Final Grade: B

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments


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