This Day In History: 01/27

Sunday, January 27, 2002

I've discovered an interesting trick to increase motivation for composing, though it only works if you tend to listen to your previous work a fair amount. Myself, I listen to what I'm currently working on when I wake up and before I go to bed, as well as other random times throughout the day, even if I don't plan on composing at the time. That way, my current work is always on my mind at some level, and I find that it makes problems a little easier to solve when I finally do sit down to write. I often find it difficult to begin a writing session, even though I do fine once I've actually stopped procrastinating and begun.

The trick is this: At the end of a composing session, add a measure or two wherever you've stopped. Make it the most musically deficient, incredibly stupid music you can think of; trite music that you would be ashamed of in a public setting. Then every time you listen to it, you'll be so embarassed at its ineptitude that you'll want to drop everything and change it. Making that change will put you in the mood to write, and get the ball rolling. It's worked well for me this week.

"The good composer is slowly discovered; the bad composer is slowly found out." - Ernest Newman

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Monday, January 27, 2003

Alias was an incredible episode last night, despite having to follow a dreadfully dull post-game special. After a painfully gratuitous lingerie scene (designed to keep Super Bowlers from changing the channel), and some stilted dialogue written for new viewers (This is the bad guy. Over here is the CIA headquarters), the episode kicked off into high gear and culminated with the apparent destruction of the evil organization, SD-6, which pretended to be a branch of the CIA. This had been the goal since the pilot of season one, but it turns out to be the first step in some long range plan by one of the villains who used the real CIA to destroy everything after he'd safely vanished with millions of dollars.

With this plot twist, the big baddie can continue to be bad without having to pretend to be good, and it's pretty much created a blank slate for the rest of the season. It takes balls to essentially eliminate your show's original focus mid-season, but judging from the way it was foreshadowed and last season's twists, I bet J.J. Abrams can do it.

It looks like the lingerie ads worked though, as Alias had a 13.3/23 Nielsen rating, when it normally hits a high of 9 or 10. Season One comes out on DVD in September. If you've never seen the show, go buy it, or borrow mine.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Day two of being icebound. I fashioned a primitive breakfast out of a sliced bagel and cream cheese, using only a toaster oven and a knife. The power was on all day, which prevented me from using any of my candles.

I did some work, signed some loan forms, and tried to get my car out of the parking lot a few times. I also added some new pictures to the usual sections of the Photos page.

Yesterday's notable search terms:

    life of beethovian, hot dogs and earthworms, symphony nicknames, robin caruso, chemical formula for hershey chocolate bars, elliot del borgo influences, garfield guiteau horse, conigliaro, circle of fifths for the xylophone

Because the circle of fifths is different for the xylophone than for the rest of the instruments.

What Skippy can't do in the Army
Franken shows faith in freedom of speech by taking out a heckler

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Thursday, January 27, 2005

I'm still playing a lot of World of Warcraft, though I've gone off on a recent tangent from straight playing to auctioning. By playing mind games with supply and demand, I've carved out a few monopolies for myself in the online auction house and my character's net worth has gone from 8 gold up to about 65 gold. With a reasonable time investment and math skills, it's quite easy to make tons of in-game cash -- just as in real life, most people don't understand or care that buying 5 of something for 1 gold is NOT as good a bargain as buying 20 of something at 3 gold. I also put up with people who try to greatly undercut my prices, not realizing that I'm just buying their goods and reselling them for higher prices.

It's like eBay without any lasting penalties for royally screwing up.

tagged as games | permalink | 10 comments

Friday, January 27, 2006

Friday Fragments

Fifty million visitors can't be wrong, unless you ask them something they don't know

  • On Wednesday it was snowing sideways in Reston for about thirty minutes. The temperature is all akimbo and fluctuates between 20 and 50. It'd be nice if there were beachy weather so I could go to the beach. I would walk eight miles down the beach, steal a little boy's scooter to get back, take a nap in a hammock, and then dig a hole. That would be my Monday. Anna, have you started looking for beach houses yet for the summer? Get on that.

  • See how I used that last fragment to ask a question of a reader that should have been done by e-mail since no one else cares about it? That's called an effective use of Internet resources. It's almost as cool as people who "accidentally" click Reply To All on mass mailing when they have something witty to say and think people care. Last year, one of the managers at my company solicited the company at large for suggestions on an acronym for a new project. For the next three days all the clowns who failed out of advertising school spammed the list with what they thought were the cleverest acronyms in the history of acronymity.

  • We also had a guy who would keep the entire company updated with up-to-the-minute news on what he was doing on his days off and why he was working at home. Mere weeks after he bought and remodeled a house, his business area codified the rules about working at home. Of course I could be wrong about the cause and effect, but there's something telling about the line, "It is also expected that if you are allowed to work from home, that you are actually working. Sending an email stating that you are painting your basement today and therefore are working from home is not acceptable".

  • Having worked from home a solid six days this month because of issues pertaining to the oral expulsion of phlegm, I'm going a little stir-crazy. I can't wait for the Spring to get here so I can at least have the option of going outside, even if I choose to ignore it. I came to work today just to get out of the house, even though I'm still coughy. This morning, a lady down the hall said she could hear my cough from her office and that it sounded like I had bronchitis.

  • I registered for the Sun Java Developer Exam last night, which is the second part of my two-part certification effort. I download a list of requirements for a programming project and turn it in whenever I'm ready. People say it generally takes twenty or more hours and that the grading is very strict. I actually like programming though, moreso when I have strict guidelines I can't deviate from, so I should be all over this one.

  • I decided I would take this certification last summer, and got approval from my company in October 2005 (they will repay my $400 if I win!), but didn't actually sign up until I was bored last night. This is actually pretty good time for a task I decide to do. The only task I ever do with alacrity is the "buy stuff you don't really need" task. That task is fun.

  • I got a pizza stone for Christmas from my sister and her husband and I've been making all my Totino's pizzas on them (by the way, Kathy, Totino's Supreme Pizzas are now discontinued). It does a good job making the pizza crispy, but it makes my kitchen smell funny for a few hours afterwards, and I can never get all the burnt bits off the stone, so I just leave them on. As a sidenote, I actually guessed that it was a pizza stone before I unwrapped the gift -- I have no idea how I did this since I wasn't expecting a pizza stone in the least bit.

  • I remember when I was a kid I ate nothing but Celeste Cheese Pizza-For-One's. You popped them in the microwave on that round cardboard crisper for two minutes and forty seconds and had a delectable treat. A meal for me back then was either two pizzas, two Banquet Chicken Pot Pies, or a box of macaroni and cheese (the powder kind) I wish my stomach were still that big and my metabolism were still that fast.

  • Also for Christmas, I got the book, Bugs Potter Live at Nickaninny by Gordon Korman. This was the sequel to Who's Bugs Potter? which I never had as a child because it was out of print in the U.S. by the time I could read. I read it in about an hour and it was pretty decent despite its horrible Canadian cover. In a strange balance of the cosmos, I can no longer find my copy of Who's Bugs Potter?, which I had planned on reading first to refresh my memory.

  • I wanted to do something innovative and new with my page last night, but then I got lazy and just added eleven new pictures to the rotating calendar centerfold on the upper left. Maybe you will show up in it!

  • Happy Birthday Bob Shrimp and Jaime Williams! Happy Birthday Jack Wilmer tomorrow! Happy Birthday Jaood on Sunday! This concludes the January-birthday-wishing portion of today's update.

  • The bulk of this weekend will again be taken up by work, since I am one heck of a leave whore and need to save it up for that vacation I will never take. Saturday looks ripe for dinner and a movie, and Sunday looks ripe for starting on my Java certification. Once February rolls around, maybe I'll start up on some house tasks again, but I like to plan that by ear and do things whenever I have the time. Have a good weekend!

  • The real Sammy Jenkis
    Woman killed by falling banana
    Del Pino said he decided to show the film after a student brought it to class and said it "was very funny"

    tagged as fragments | permalink | 9 comments

    Tuesday, January 27, 2009

    Newsday Tuesday

    Many Americans Much Happier Now

    Key groups of people in the United States have grown happier over the past few decades, while other have become less so. The result: Happiness inequality has decreased since the 1970s, a new study finds.

    In other important research, some people have been taking longer showers in the morning, while others have taken shorter showers. The result: the net amount of water used in the shower has stayed about the same.

    Previous research has found that happiness is partly inherited, and that it can be highly contagious. So what's the state of glee in these United States? Depends on who and how you ask. One recent study found, for example, that Baby Boomers are not as happy today as other generations in other eras.

    In a separate study, Baby Boomers were interviewed to determine the reasons behind their sadness. Overwhelmingly, the answer turned out to be the moniker of "Baby Boomers", with many folks suggesting alternate names like Heavy Boinkers, or The Bunny Generation. Said one Boomer, "It sounds like we fill up bass drums with babies for extra resonance." A spokesperson for Black Sabbath could not be reached for comment.

    Globally, happiness is on the rise, according to a study last year. Denmark is the happiest nation and Zimbabwe is the most glum. The United States ranked 16th.

    The United States has actually gotten happier since the 2006 study, when it didn't even make the top 20. Burundi, the former title-holder for world's glummest nation, rose a few points, most likely because they don't have a President Mugabe to deal with.

    The U.S. happiness gap between whites and non-whites has narrowed by two-thirds, the new study found. Non-whites report being significantly happier than they were in the early 1970s, while whites are slightly less happy. The happiness gap between men and women closed as well. Women have become less happy, while men are a little more cheerful.

    Feminist groups have launched a new ad campaign portraying men as "thieves of the happy" -- since this study implies that only a finite amount of happiness exists in the world, they've determined that it's only fair that women get their due.

    Stevenson and Wolfers used data collected from 1972 to 2006 through the University of Chicago's General Social Survey. Each year, participants were asked, "Taken all together, how would you say things are these days - would you say that you are very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy?"

    Dissenters to the study note that the options seem overly cheerful and skewed towards happy results. Researchers defended their survey, providing several raw questionnaires where space at the bottom was filled with write-in answers, dark emo poetry, and "HATE LIFE" written in thick black magic marker.

    The authors say that it's hard to pin down what exactly is causing the narrowing happiness gap. But they suggest that money probably is not the answer. In fact one recent study found that giving money away generates happiness.

    The researchers obviously did not think to check with their sponsors, who were livid and nowhere near happy when they discovered that they'd given money away to such a useless research project. Plans are already underway to request additional funds next year, to show that researcher happiness increases as financier happiness diminishes.

    Robbery suspect turned into a goat
    Nazi angel of death Josef Mengele 'created twin town in Brazil'
    14-year-old is cop for a day

    tagged as newsday | permalink | 0 comments

    Wednesday, January 27, 2010

    Classic Cat Video Day

    Remember the halcyon days of 2003 when I posted ten to twelve artistic cat videos every two hours in lieu of more meaningful updates? Because they were always so well received, I have pulled six of the better ones out of obscurity and elevated them to immortality through YouTube. Enjoy!

    Kitty learns to sing, January 2004

    On those long, boring Sterling afternoons, Anna and I would sometimes spend hours dropping pieces of paper down our stairs, April 2004

    When we first got Sydney, she was slightly food-obsessed. This was before she ate the bottle of multivitamins, or spent two hours in the fridge eating cake, March 2005

    Booty likes Dave Matthews, November 2005

    Introducing Lake and Titan, the Gay Kitty Brothers, October 2006

    Amber has a beautiful singing voice, July 2007
    TSA plants drugs on student as a joke
    Cops stop cyclist with butcher knife-pool cue axe
    Wrong-O: Oregon burglar steals the wrong drugs

    tagged as media | permalink | 1 comment

    Thursday, January 27, 2011

    Review Day

    There are no spoilers in these reviews, except that the restaurant was lame.

    Breville BOV650XL Compact 4-Slice Smart Oven:
    I never thought I would become a toaster oven snob but after a succession of cheap Black and Decker ovens with an assortment of issues (stopped working after three months, had no completion bell, turned the left bagel black and refroze the right bagel) I asked for this classy oven for Christmas. Using and programming it are iPod-simple, and every single bagel and toast entree I've made has come out perfectly, even in the often-failing case where you toast something else while the oven is still warm. Besides breaded objects, we've also made a chocolate cake, a small pizza, quesadillas, bean dip, and other delicious goodies. As a bonus, this toaster oven came out at the top of the Consumer Reports ratings after we bought it. If you use a toaster oven with any regularity, give it a look.

    Final Grade: A

    Bring It On (Tenth Anniversary Edition) by Gomez:
    I believe that this was Gomez's first CD from the late nineties, and it also comes with a bonus CD filled with BBC Live Studio recordings. The actual album is pretty bland, with no big highs, and ends with one of those seven minute vamp songs that you want to be over after three. The BBC recordings are more interesting, but really only for fans.

    Final Grade: C+

    Inside the Mind of BTK by John Douglas and Johnny Dodd:
    This is another serial killer book by the Mindhunter guy, so it's immediately bogged down by the introductory biographical filler that I've memorized by now. However, because this book focuses on a single killer, there's a surprisingly deep analysis of the crimes, the perpetrator, and the post-capture follow-up. In addition, this true-story account essentially IS the plot for the fourth season of Dexter, so I'm glad I didn't read it until afterwards.

    Final Grade: B-

    The Counter:
    Negative Yelp reviews of The Counter have kept us away in the past, but we decided to give it a try after receiving a free burger coupon in the mail. The service was overly attentive at first, but then went downhill after that. Our fries came out immediately and were delicious. The burgers were "okay" and came out a full forty minutes after we had ordered. No one is hungry after forty minutes of fries, and our waiter claimed that "they had run out of meat in the kitchen". This seems like a bad state to be in during normal dinner hours. He also tried to convince me that Stouts are supposed to be golden yellow and taste like wheat beer after he messed up my second beer order. I would not even have needed a second beer order if the burgers had come out on normal human schedules. Bottom line: This is a decent, slightly undercooked burger if you can get it for $6 and home-delivered. It's not worth your time if you have to eat it in the restaurant and pay $10. Note: The Counter does not deliver.

    Final Grade: D

    Woman Falls 23 Stories, Lands on Taxi, Survives
    Kucinich sues for olive pit sandwich
    Mom jailed for enrolling kids in a better school district

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    Friday, January 27, 2012

    Random Chart Day

    After 22 hours, I think I'm done playing Zelda: Skyward Sword. At least I got to name my character.

    $5 here, $37 there: Americans' indulgences add up
    Symantec advises customers to stop using pcAnywhere

    tagged as data | permalink | 5 comments

    Monday, January 27, 2014

    Weekend Wrap-up

    This weekend, we reserved a house in Nags Head for Beach Week, which is now 222 days away. Now that Rebecca is no longer a student, we can take advantage of the September discounts. The ocean is still warm from a summer full of tourist pee, and all of the families with children have packed up and left for the year (except for the homeschooled, who are probably running around telling everyone that they're on their "jellyfish" lesson plan).

    On Saturday night, we went down to Oakton for a small birthday party, where we ate a lot of cheese and red velvet cake. Since the back way may have been icy, we took the perpetual traffic jam that is I-66 part of the way in -- even at 7 PM, top speeds hovered around 30 MPH.

    On Sunday, we went back to the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema to watch the Joaquin Phoenix film, her. The pizza was a little better than the burger I'd ordered last time, although you get a little more than you can probably finish in a single movie that isn't Harry Potter related.

    How was your weekend?

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

    Tuesday, January 27, 2015

    Snow Day

    I had hoped to get a nice time lapse of a historically proportioned blizzard, but alas, it was not to be. Even our neighbour's car displayed more signs of activity than this weather system.

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

    Wednesday, January 27, 2016

    Time-lapsed Blogography Day: 20 Years Ago

    Twenty years ago today, on January 27, 1996, I was down at Virginia Tech for my music major audition. Here's my journal entry from that date:

    Today was the Tech audition. We got there at about 11:30 and walked around for a while. At about 1, two students took us on a tour of the music facility (myself and some piano girl). I think the audition went well. I played Concert Etude and the first part of Slavische Fantasie before 9 music faculty. Then they interviewed me about my compositions and various other musical topics. At the end, the trumpet guy took me to his office and interviewed me some more. I like the music program and I think the faculty was impressed with me but I don't think I'll end up going there.

    The reason I didn't think I'd end up going there was the fact that it was such a long drive from home (in spite of the fact that my dad always insisted on doing the round-trip in a day to save on motel costs). Traveling to Tech from northern Virginia is like reaching into Mary Poppins' bag and finding more highways. At the time of writing, my plan was to go to William and Mary, a school that was just slightly closer, but ultimately turned out to have neither one of the programs I was interested in in any worthwhile capacity. Looking back, it turned out to be a good choice to end up at Tech taking lessons with "the trumpet guy".

    Right around this time, as the snows were melting, my dad took this picture of me, for submission to the "New Students" yearbook of incoming freshman at various schools. I wore the anorak solely to look 100% more sporty than I actually was. Of course, the Tech yearbook cropped it so tightly that the black and white result just made me look like I worked on a race car pit crew.

    tagged as memories | permalink | 0 comments

    Friday, January 27, 2017

    Review Day

    There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

    Rise of the Tomb Raider:
    Like its predecessor, this is game is very well done and really gives you a kinetic feeling as you spiral through 3D landscapes with a tight, effective control scheme. It's as much fun to watch as it is to play, but gets a little bogged down by console-style gameplay (collect X useful things, unlock Y useless upgrades, and of course, crafting things out of animal skins) and too much repetitive combat. I enjoyed playing it for about 20 hours, but never really got enough momentum or inspiration to finish it off. [Note: I also posted an updated review later on.]

    Final Grade: B-

    Borderline, Season One:
    This mockumentary about agents working in a small British airport starts out promising, but after a few episodes, it plays out like a much weaker version of the American version of The Office. The last few episodes are needlessly repetitive, as if they just eventually ran out of ideas -- this doesn't bode well since the whole season is only 6 twenty minute episodes. Free on Netflix.

    Final Grade: C-

    Hyperion by Dan Simmons:
    This book was the driving force behind the forming of a book club amongst Rebecca's yoga friends. Told in discrete stories, similar to the Canterbury Tales, the book excels at world-building but drags on and on. Of the six back stories revealed, I only really liked the Scholar's Tale, and I was disappointed by the lack of payoff at the end of the book.

    Final Grade: C

    Lucky Number Slevin (R):
    This is a stylish gangster / whodunit film that reminds me of the glory days of such films before Quentin Tarantino OD'd on the genre. It's always fun, and features good performances from all of the main actors (including Ben Kingsley, Morgan Freeman, and Bruce Willis). Free on Netflix.

    Final Grade: B

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments

    Monday, January 27, 2020

    Weekend Wrap-up

    On Friday evening, I whipped up a batch of boil'n'bake ribs for dinner. paired with a nice Belgian tripel. After Maia's bedtime, we continued the dirge-like progress through the last season of Game of Thrones.

    On Saturday morning, Car came over to do yoga with Rebecca in the basement while Maia acted as foreman, ordering me around in the construction of a house for her bunnies. Midday, we drove to the Uri grandparents' house where Maia was excited for an overnight stay. From there, Rebecca and I went to the MGM at National Harbor for the annual company holiday party. While the room was slightly more swank than usual (the shower was central to the layout with frosted glass walls on three sides), it was much less light-proof and noise-proof than a typical Hampton Inn. We waded through the odd ducks that hang out at casinos on Saturday afternoons and watched bad cable TV until it was time to party.

    750 people showed up this year. Compared to last year, food was slightly more forgettable, music was a better volume, and every run across the ballroom was a typical gauntlet of people you want to talk to but doing so would increase the amount of time it takes you to get to your original destination. We started a table of people from the original company, FGM, and tried to figure out how many of us were left. After winning nothing in the raffle, we stuck around for tasty desserts at 11 then crashed in our room.

    On Sunday, we returned to Alexandria to find that Maia had gotten a fever overnight and was oscillating between feeling miserable and her usual happy self. She was also taken with a new Frozen doll that played "Let It Go" over and over -- I wisely decided to enforce the movie's lore, which states that Princess Elsa lives at grandma's house and doesn't come home with us.

    Maia took a long nap (#4 for 2020) in the afternoon and awoke with another fever. 3.75 mL of ibuprofen later, she felt better enough to make some valentines for her friends and watch two episodes of Superwings.

    How was your weekend?

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

    Wednesday, January 27, 2021

    Time-lapsed Blogography Day: Twenty-Five Years Ago Today

    Twenty five years ago today, on January 27, 1996, I was at Virginia Tech for my music major audition.

    My parents and I arrived on campus around 11:30 and walked around for a little while. I then got a private tour of the Squires music building by a music volunteer, likely a Delta Omnicron member although I wouldn't have known what that was at the time.

    For my trumpet audition, I performed Alexander Goedicke's Concert Etude and Carl Hohne's Slavische Fantasie for 9 music faculty that (at a minimum) included Drs. Bachelder, Easter, Widder, and Dave McKee. I played on my cornet and did pretty well without a pianist. Afterwards, the panel interviewed me about my entire composition portfolio which consisted of 8 whole pieces diligently printed on my state-of-the-art HP LaserJet printer and put into a three-ring binder. They closed with the standard question, "Do you have any questions for us?" I pulled out a single sheet of typed questions to which Dave McKee chuckled and said, "Watch out for this guy! He's got questions for US!"

    Because motels were "a waste of money for such a short trip", my dad drove us home to Alexandria in the same day, making it a 12-hour trip from end to end. I then wrote the following in my journal:

    I like the music program and I think the faculty was impressed with me but I don't think I'll end up going there.

    At the time, I had my eye more on William and Mary (which turned out to be awful for both halves of my double major) and felt like Tech was too far away (it was).

    tagged as memories | permalink | 0 comments


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