This Day In History: 01/28

Monday, January 28, 2002

Yesterday, I started the arduous process of converting all my old Finale files to the new format. It will probably take a few months to get them all done, as I'm also remixing their respective MIDI files for the SC-8850 at the same time. Some of the files use fonts that don't even exist anymore, and many haven't been touched since I was using Finale 97. I also want to clean out my haphazard collection of old motives and unfinished threads that has been building up over the past eight years.

Last summer's project was the revamping of this website. I believe that this summer's project will be to create an MP3 archive of the MIDI renditions of every single work I've ever done for posterity's sake. With sound standards always changing, and some works still mixed for the Ensoniq Soundscape that went defunct years ago, it would be nice to have a CD archive of my early works, especially those that will never (or maybe "should never") be performed by acoustical instruments.

I was talking to Mark the other night about the need to make this News page, and the site in general, more interactive. The big limitation to adding a guestbook or message board is the lack of scripting support on the Virginia Tech music server. I don't use the FSU server because the Domain is over 100 megabytes already. Once I've settled down in a permanent location, I plan on getting a cable modem and hosting the site myself, which will allow me to program my own applications for user feedback. I may even bring back the message board I wrote so long ago.

Liszt's Les Preludes was on the Simpsons last night.

"He uses music as an accompaniment to his conducting." - Oscar Levant, on Leonard Bernstein

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Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Interval Mnemonics Day went well in my sightsinging classes today, although surprisingly better in KMU than in Cawthon. I had multiple real-world examples prepared for each interval, ascending and descending, within an octave. Things got off to a rocky start in Cawthon when Jaws crashed the computer (being, of course, the example for an ascending minor second). That damn shark.

When I finally got to the end of the examples in the "low-tech CD" version of the show, I went back to repeat a few to find that Doogie Howser had possessed the CD player (descending octave) and wouldn't let any other tracks play. I was actually surprised at how many of the jazz/pop examples were recognized by students since I'd expected that many would be before their time. However, none of the students knew the Schubert, Dvorak, or Mussorgsky examples, which was telling.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Under duress, I probably could have made it into work these past two days but when the weather gets bad, I trust my own driving more than I trust the drivers around me. This point is emphasized even more when I see all the cars roaring out of their parking lots with a tiny porthole chipped out of the ice on their windshields, like the drivers believe they're in some futuristic speeder race where they can take out their opponents by launching thick sheafs of ice onto the racetrack.

The drive this morning was fine, if stately, and for the first time in weeks, I didn't see the valiant biker-guy of Route 28 with his flickering safety light cycling at a steady seventy-five miles per hour slower than the surrounding traffic. I'm not sure why he'd want to bike up such a dangerous road before the sun comes up -- perhaps its his way of communing with nature.

Kitty starred in a musical last night:

Singing Cat (2.2MB WMV)

Happy Birthday Jack!

Yesterday's notable search terms:

    real treasure chests, posters of the lost continent mu, the oak island shaft, south american praying mantis scientific name, idealistic thoughts on marriage, essay describing a jungle scene

Funny telepathic parrot communicates with humans
Nuclear power cheats

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Friday, January 28, 2005

Sadly, no one submitted any entries to this week's Name That Tune contest. The answers were:

  1. Trista, Hector Berlioz
  2. Faces, Earth, Wind and Fire
  3. Underground, David Bowie for Labyrinth
  4. NASA Attacks from Conspiracy Theory

Also, for your listening displeasure, I found an online recording of the song I mentioned in my January 12, 2005 update: With Those Eyes by Elena (streaming WMV). Try not to throw up on my site.

No sleep for 20 years

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Audience Participation Day: Laudatory Remarks

With Phil moving back to Williamsburg, Doobie marrying something that didn't come out of a 40, and Mike planning a move to the great Washington D.C. metropolitan area, it's become painfully obvious that I haven't done a very good job of keeping up with all of my readers' lives.

To rectify this situation post-haste, today's post will be an opportunity for you to let me know what you've been up to. To add a dash of creativity (which is much more fun than nutmeg) you get to tell me what you've been up to in the form of a local newspaper article for an award you have just won. Feel free to use any format you want and post in the Comments section, but if you prefer a Mad Libs approach, you can use the following template:

Brian Uri!, a resident of Sterling, Virginia and an established expert on getting Finale to notate the music the way you want it to, was presented with the Keanu Reeves Distinguished Award for Token Asianism at a grand ceremony yesterday evening. After attending school at Virginia Tech and Florida State, he fell off the radar, but all reports indicate that he has been quite successful in the past few years designing software for the federal government and watching TV shows on DVD.

Brian's life changed for the better last year when he tricked someone into being his girlfriend, and his future plans include going to Europe, playing World of Warcraft, and inviting all URI! Zone readers to visit Virginia for an awkward party where everyone stands around and pretends to have things in common. In his acceptance speech, he thanked Dan Shiplett and Alex, and closed with these noble words: "Exclamation points are fun! Leave a note in the Comments section!"

Happy Birthday to Jack Wilmer!

Movie sanitizer's next job is his own life
A corollary to the "wear clean underwear for the hospital" rule
Baptists have the biggest poops

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Five Years Day

Fifteen Years Ago Today... I was snowed in at home as a tenth grader. Unfortunately, it was a Student Evaluation Day which meant that we already had the day off, which is like winning the lottery after you die. I spent the day playing computer games and shoveling snow.

Ten Years Ago Today... I was living with Nathan, the dirtiest roommate I've ever had, in East AJ and taking Operating Systems, Polifrone's Contemporary Music Literature class, and "Probability and Statistics for Monkeys But Renamed As 'for Engineers' So They Feel Good About Themselves".

The night before, I had gone to Rosie and Jen's apartment for Taco Night with Shac, who continuously mooched off of my car for all three years that I had one at school. After tacos, it was time for a brand new episode of DAWSON'S CREEK!!, during which Shac and I made fun of the show until we got kicked out of the apartment.

Five Years Ago Today... I was snowed in and working from home in the Elms at Centreville. I couldn't even back my car out of its parking spot, and spent the afternoon applying for home mortgage loans and talking with my realtor, so I could buy this fine piece of real estate I currently own, whose assessment has dropped another hundred thousand dollars this year.

Today... I am snowed in and working from home. There's a half-inch of ice coating everything in the neighbourhood and a cat sleeping next to a space heater.

New LOST on at 9 PM tonight!

Would you eat a sea kitten?
Leaping needlefish impales man's nasal cavity
Mexicans turn to voodoo against US team

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

LOST, Season Five:
I hated the fifth season finale when it aired last year, but of course that wouldn't stop me from rewatching the season in preparation for next week's LOST Steak Night. Ultimately, it's the sixth and final season that will make or break the fifth season, but on its own, it's still not that good. The writers packed on too many dense layers of additional complexity when they really should have spent more time streamlining the plot and focusing towards a conclusion. Then, after incorporating the idea of "flashes", it felt like the writers weren't sure if we'd get the concept, and spent several episodes bashing it into our brains. The LOST DVD menus continue to piss me off as well, but that's a topic for a Pet Peeve List Day.

Final Grade: B-

Star Trek:
My complete exposure to Star Trek as a child can be counted on one finger (and not the good one): in high school, I conducted the "Theme from Star Trek" as drum major in marching band. Before watching this movie, I had never seen a Star Trek movie or an episode in its entirety, and my knowledge was limited to pop culture catch phrases and mockeries. This movie definitely feels like a J.J. Abrams production, though thankfully it didn't turn into Alias in space. The movie got a bit more interesting as it went on, but was held back by overuse of lens flare and jerky camera motions -- obviously Abrams hired the camera guy from The Bourne Identity and a production artist using a 1990s edition of Paint Shop Pro to touch up his scenes.

Final Grade: B-

The Taking of Pelham 123:
This is an enoyable cookie-cutter movie about a hostage situation on a subway train, buoyed by the acting power of Denzel Washington -- John Travolta comes off as any other unmemorable villain. It's suspenseful, but over quickly, and won't tax your brain as much as other movies in the genre.

Final Grade: B

GOP fundraising letter looks like census form
Pensioner astonished by double banana
Dance parties a no-no at Jefferson Memorial

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Progress Day

  1. I have reduced my work hours per day from a high of 17 down to 6 today.

  2. Troubleshooting Finale 2011 is really annoying when it completely freezes the computer to the point where you have to power it down to continue.

  3. We got 8 inches of snow, but it was all easily shovelable. Fairfax County snow plows are much better at their jobs than Loudoun County snow plows.

  4. My new Warcraft character is now level 42, but has done every single available quest in the level 30 and below zones. Tonight is Warcraft Night with the Ahlbins.

  5. Jack Wilmer is a year older today. Happy Birthday!

  6. Have a good weekend!
Suit defends "$10,000 to take a crap" signs
Accused killer: I performed plastic surgery on myself
Smugglers with "medieval catapult" nabbed at border

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Weekend Wrap-up

The weekend started off on Friday with unsustainable excitement (not unlike the Matrix trilogy), front-loaded with the wedding of Married Evil Mike and Taje in Arlington. It coincided with an overhyped snow event that saw less than an inch of snow fall on the area and forced NOVA Community College to close early.

Being in the wedding, I was unable to take my usual assortment of wedding photos, since there was no place to stick my camera that was not inappropriate. However, Rebecca subbed in and got some nice shots (most of which are on Facebook at the moment) while I did wedding party stuff and ate dinner from the paella station.

On Saturday, I returned the rental suit and its five thousand accessories to Mens Wearhouse and then restocked the fridge, which had gotten dangerously low on Coke Zero and tater tots. I then spent the rest of the day playing Dishonored, which gets a weak thumbs up (review on Thursday). We ate steaks on Saturday night and continued the David Fincher odyssey with The Game, which I had seen years ago and Rebecca didn't particularly care for.

On Sunday, I practiced my 7th chord fingerings on the bass, and started the FX show, Justified. Dinner was gnocchi from Cantina d'Italia in Herndon -- we've decided that it's easily the most delicious item you can order for a reasonable cost.

Tell me something embarassing about your own weekend!

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

List Day: 5 Brand Names Better Than Their Generic Counterpart

  • Eggo Waffles: When I bit into the store brand waffle, I encountered a bland sandiness that suggested mussels as the top ingredient.

  • Thomas' Original English Muffins: There's something about the higher quality nooks and crannies. Also, no English muffin is truly fork-splittable, but Thomas' are the least likely to frustrate you with a single torn chunk of muffin on a fork, or result in forking injuries.

  • Philadelphia Cream Cheese: Store brand cream cheese tends to taste like flavorless albino butter. This is in reference to the color of the butter, not what it was made from.

  • Kikkoman's Soy Sauce: Anytime generic soy sauce packets end up in our sushi bags, they go straight into the trash. They're essentially composed of black salt water, probably from the beaches of New Jersey.

  • Oreo cookies: Our elementary school lunches were filled with the generic cookie, probably on sale for 50% off (limit 6 please) and probably dubbed with a name like "Black and White Cookie Sandwich!".

What brand names are you willing to spend more money on?

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken twenty-two years ago in June of 1993, after the yearly school awards ceremony at Hammond Jr. High. At the end of my freshman year, I had just won the award for outstanding band member, along with other white noise awards in every other subject offered at the school. This was a completely expected outcome, based on the pretentious, cocky smirk on my face -- a bold statement for someone wearing giant glasses, a clip-on tie, and white socks with black shoes.

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Zoom Cable Model Model 5370:
I picked up this modem after getting tired of Comcast bugging me about upgrading my "old" modem from less than 5 years ago. Instructions are clear and easy-to-follow, and the best part is that I didn't have to contact Comcast to get it registered on their network. Afterwards, my download speed consistently jumped from 25 to 28 MBps and my upload speed remained the same. Unfortunately, this didn't help in the blizzard when everyone in the neighbourhood was watching Netflix.

Final Grade: B+

Run, Season One:
This is a very well-acted but unrelentingly grim British show about people living in council estates. There are only four episodes, and all the stories are minimally tied together like a subdued version of Crash. It's a short commitment, but probably not worth watching unless you want to see some good performances and feel depressed about life. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B-

Werewolves and Lollipops by Patton Oswalt:
This older standup routine accompanied us on our Fredericksburg trip a couple weeks ago. It's sporadically laugh-worthy but mostly chuckles, and is probably better with video involved. We enjoyed his bit about growing up in Sterling, VA.

Final Grade: B-

The Martian (PG-13):
This isolation-driven movie about being stranded on Mars is better than Castaway and Gravity combined, probably because there are other characters to play off of, and the tone is allowed to remain light-hearted for the most part. Even Rebecca liked it (she fell asleep in the other two movies).

Final Grade: B+

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Monday, January 28, 2019

Data Day: Evolution of the Annual Office Party

or, at least, the ones I actually went to

  • 2010: Small conference room at the Sheraton Premiere. Ugly Sweater Contest is the main feature. Cash bar. 3 people dancing. We win AN IPOD...docking station. We then went out and bought an iPod.

  • 2011: Mock casino setting in Reston Town Center. Everyone gets a company fleece not quite thick enough to use as a washcloth.

  • 2012: Small conference room at the Dulles Hilton with a Wild West theme. Free drinks and emceed entertainment.

  • 2012: Following a merger, the company rents out the entire Air & Space annex in Chantilly. Free sushi and plenty of corporate speeches about how version 1.0 of the new company will be the best ever.

  • 2013: (not pictured) Company sends us all to watch the cringeworthily-horrible Luma: Theater of Lights but we miss all of the free drinks because President Obama was at the venue and all of the roads were blocked.

  • 2015: Company rents out the entire American History museum. We keep ordering new drinks because the old ones get immediately cleaned up whenever we leave them at the entrance of any given exhibit.

  • 2016: Company rents out an entire DC nightclub (and they kick us nerds out promptly at 10:30 so real customers can get in). Unnecessarily extravagant audio/visual experience including a George Clooney lookalike and corporate speeches about how version 2.0 of the company will be the best ever.

  • 2017: (not pictured) I was working for a startup with Mary and got dinner down the street from the office once.

  • 2019: Company rents the ballroom at the MGM. Musical talent show, "dance motivators", karaoke, games, and 4 buffet lines moving in parallel to accommodate over 600 people. No cult-like corporate speeches in sight, unless you count the dystopian disembodied voice exhorting us to "use the right hashtag on your Instagram photos".

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Friday, January 28, 2022

Review Day: Flourish, Signature Edition

Flourish is a fairly recent "card passing" game where you score points for constructing the best garden while passing your weakest cards to your neighbors. Cards depict flowers and features that give your garden a raw score, and multipliers that crank those scores up at the end of each round and the end of the game.

I picked this up for the family for Christmas, having searched for a game that would be interesting for 2 adults to play but accessible enough for Maia "Tokaido Lover" Uri to play along with. It's a hit with Maia although she normally just builds the prettiest garden rather than caring about scores.

There's an overwhelming number of cardboard game pieces that need to be built, but 90% of what's in the box is only for the "Follies" expansion and can be ignored until you're ready for it. The base game is very light in terms of setup and teardown. Each game is fast, taking only 15 - 30 minutes to play out.

The game can be played at a relaxed, low strategy pace and the trickiest part of gameplay tends to be deciding what cards to hold back from your opponents even if you have no use for them yourself (similar to Lost Cities). With only 2 players, the card passing tends to devolve into trading the worst 4 cards back and forth, but the game supports up to 7 players which helps with passing variety.

There are multiple game variants and two free expansions in the box, "Friends" and "Follies", designed to gently increase the level of strategy involved. If you just want a nice game to play at the end of the day, the base game or the "Friends" expansion are perfect. We haven't tried the "Follies" expansion yet but the billion cardboard cutouts required have been repurposed as bunny houses in Bunny Town.

Final Grade: A, easy to setup, easy to learn, lots of replayability

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