This Day In History: 01/31

Thursday, January 31, 2002

Every night when I'm in the practice room, I hear some anonymous freshman trumpeter down the hall, practicing the same tired three measures of the Hummel trumpet concerto at a plodding, methodical tempo. He or she never varies from the strict tempo and notes, but just keeps playing it over and over again without any sign of improvement. It seems like many performers in the practice rooms recognize the importance of reduced-tempo practicing, but never actually exploit the opportunity to get better. Hopefully this trumpeter will either get better or give up sometime soon...

I'm looking for a nice, compact title word that describes an outlook on life where you just don't give a damn. "Carefree" isn't quite right and "happy-go-lucky" is too long. Any ideas? Send me an e-mail with the mail icon on the right.

Popup ads kind of piss me off.

"It's like being forced to undergo 'chemo' three times a week when you don't even have cancer." - student, on his MWF morning class

tagged as music | permalink | 0 comments

Friday, January 31, 2003

FGM, the company I'll be working for come May, is ramping up on hiring with jobs ranging from part-time receptionist to project leads . There's even a spot open at their Colorado Springs branch, although Honolulu has no openings right now. If you don't like your current place of employment, it's not too late to jump ship and join a great company. Steal some secrets while you're at it.

The basketball team lost to "Capitol Coin and Diamond" last night, 49-37. That's quite an improvement from our past appearances. We held our own despite the ad-hoc feints and plays that tried to incorporate themselves at the last minute.

Bushspeak
Rumsfield will have the CIA assassinate Schwarzkopf within a week

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Monday, January 31, 2005

January comes to a close following a high-stakes poker game on Friday night (I came in fourth) and unexpected snow on Saturday (2 inches). Nothing of interest happened yesterday, being one of those weekend days that only gets half a slot on a wall calendar. Anna and I put in some papers for two kittens, and we should be hearing back sometime this week.

Monkeys Pay to See Female Monkey Bottoms
Cops: Robber Asked Victim For A Date
Cheney's Fashion Sense

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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

I can assert with virtual confidence that I am no longer a spreader of disease and my cough has gone away for good, so they can finally remove me from the terrorist deck of playing cards where I was third in command of the clubs suit (Queen of Clubs was the girl that licks everything from the anti-smoking ad and King was Mike's Futon of Death). It only took three weeks for the cough to stop, fast enough for me to enter February with a healthy, clean outlook, but not so fast that it didn't annoy me during my weekend plans o' fun.

After the past returned to haunt me in the form of prepackaged frozen pizzas on Saturday, I took a trip out to Fake Alexandria, which is the area of Fairfax County south of the Beltway also known as Hybla Valley, where the low-class county trash preys on the City of Alexandria's good name and reputation. While there, I was forcibly involved in an afternoon caper that included a flaming car, multiple police officers, and a very tasty doughnut. Sadly though, I promised not to reveal any further details, but the tale is interesting enough that I think Kim should post a full disclosure the next time she's run out of blog ideas.

Three hours and seventy miles on the odometer later, we were eating dinner at the Bennigan's in Springfield Mall, which was apparently having a Commodores, Guns n' Roses, Bon Jovi lovefest, playing classics back to back throughout the night. I ate a sliced jalapeno pepper and peed in the nastiest bathroom ever found outside of a gas station -- even the Queen of Clubs would think twice about licking that bathroom floor, as I think there were multiple new species of life gestating in and around the sink area.

From there, we moseyed down the thoroughfare to the theatre for a showing of Annapolis which came with a free side of hoody high school kids making comments at the screen. My ticket was only $7, since I'm a bona fide student of the Florida State University where I have been working on my doctorate by correspondence for the past three years. The movie was entertaining but mostly silly -- a better title might have been Rocky Goes to the Academy, since the Naval Academy is only used as a back drop for a boxing / coming-of-age story. Most of the movie consisted of deep and meaningful lines of dialogue taken from better movies and James Franco frowning while trying hard not to turn into the Green Goblin.

In fact, the only things I learned about the Naval Academy from the film was that there is only one attractive female on the entire campus, but she will be a year ahead of you so you can't kiss her without being kicked out, and if you lie about taking a shower you'll get kicked out, and if you're fat and eat junk food you'll get kicked out. BUT you can punch a visiting Marine officer twice without provocation and he'll let you advance to the boxing finals instead of kicking your insubordinate ass out. They say that the reason the entire film was shot in Philadelphia was because the Academy and Annapolis didn't support the movie, and I can see why -- as a patriotic recruiting movie, it's not really that good. I think it would have been more successful in luring young, inexperienced high-school graduates to service if they had added a storyline where the Navy clones an entire battalion of Jordana Brewsters and they all fall madly in love with the incoming plebe class.

It will be interesting to see if President Bush includes this "Hot Clone" initiative in tonight's State of the Union address. If he's going to preempt higher quality television like Scrubs and House for twenty minutes of empty rhetoric and eighty minutes of clapper-ass clappers, then the least he could do is to introduce a nucular stem-cell cloning technique that creates hotties. It would be a definite step towards world peace.

Fear of Girls: The Documentary
WoW's new Raid Dungeon
Get men to diet groups with sex and pizza

tagged as reviews, day-to-day | permalink | 4 comments

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Ambition Day

I have no ambitions.

With that concise statement, I just dropped off the dating radars of millions of single women whose profiles reveal that they're looking for smart, funny, confident guys with long-term goals and ambitions. That's no big loss though, because those same profiles probably continue with a variant on the phrase "someone who loves to go out and party but can also just stay home on the couch and watch a movie". I actually tried this, and quickly deduced that it's physically impossible to do both at the same time without bringing the couch with you, and Bungalow Billiards frowns on B.Y.O.C. even more than the movie theatre frowns on smuggled foodstuffs. Therefore, all those women are dreaming the Impossible Dream without so much as a Golden Helmet of Mambrino to keep them company. But I digress.

Ambition is a huge measuring stick in today's society (and since I am slight of height, you can tell that I have no great love of measuring sticks), to the point where a lack of ambition is generally called apathy instead of equilibrium. People always want to know what future holds, and the company you work for is always in a tizzy to record your career goals and help you meet them. Perhaps it's because my life is a sitcom rather than a serial but ambition is just not my cup of tea. As a child, ambitions and aspirations are a great hypothetical way to give you an initial direction in life, but too many people fall into the trap of blindly following them like a tracked go-kart at a theme park where they don't trust you to drive in a straight line. They're more like guidelines, really.

Once you are a grown and functioning member of society, personal growth does not have to equate with becoming the President or getting another diploma. Not everyone has to save the world or cure cancer. In my own case, I've worked hard to create a comfortable sphere of existence surrounded by interesting people and enjoyable experiences. Why would I strive for "something more" unless what I already have isn't good enough? I prefer to wing it -- I maintain the status quo until it doesn't work anymore. If I find something I want to learn more about, I'll learn it. If I want to remain in a technical field instead of becoming a manager, I'll do so (unless there's an obscene amount of money involved -- ambitious people may be silly, but rich people are cool). I would even argue that the reason I'm good at what I do is because I'm perfectly happy doing it.

That's not to say I endorse lack of ambition as a distraction from your unhappiness -- just that people shouldn't judge your life lower because you're happy the way you are. There's a simple litmus test to determine where the line falls between apathy and equilibrium: if you have watched the complete anthology of Trading Spaces to cover up an emptiness in your life that you're not doing anything to fill, then maybe a little dose of ambition would get your life kick-started in the proper direction.

If, however, nothing in this life makes you happier than vegetating on the couch with a bowl of cheddar popcorn and Paige Davis, then I salute you.

Underwear tossing a deal-breaker for opera star
I was a cybercrook for the FBI
Casino voids $102k reward

tagged as random, deep thoughts | permalink | 7 comments

Thursday, January 31, 2008

End of the Month Media Day


First snowstorm of 2008

Marc eats a cookie

Seems a little horse

Indigenous Australian lovebirds

Ella tours a prison as part of a Scared Straight program

The new Pantene Pro-V commercial

More New Photos

See more Winter Festivities Photos
See more Aquarium Photos
See more January Photos
See more Cat Photos
See more Ella Photos

Movies

Teaching Ella to be an Injun (1MB WMV)
Booty, Amber, Lake, and Titan coexisting (4MB WMV)

Strange creature immune to pain
Woman punched horse in the neck
Man struggles to return from the dead

tagged as media | permalink | 2 comments

Monday, January 31, 2011

Weekend Wrap-up

Friday night was Warcraft night with the Ahlbins, as the respective sects of that family locked their respective kids up in various cupboards so we could all do some dungeon runs together. The Guild reached Level 2 over the weekend and got the 5% experience bonus, which means that you can now get from level 1 to 60 in about 4.5 minutes.

On Saturday, we watched The Social Network, which shall hereafter be referred to as The Only Movie Starring Jesse Eisenberg That Hasn't Annoyed The Piss Out Of Me. This was followed with dinner and drinks at Mylo's in McLean, a restaurant with a mild Greek persuasion.

I got a little work in on Sunday morning, and then we met Rebecca's parents for lunch outside the crafts fair at the Dulles Expo Center. We followed that up with an impromptu game and pizza night with Kathy and Chris who were temporarily evicted from their town house while prospective buyers went through their drawers and stole their copper piping. In the evening, we finished another movie and then broke into the chocolate pie from last weekend's aborted poker game. None of those clowns deserved chocolate pie anyhow.

Will.i.am named Intel's director of creative innovation
'Snake House' up for sale again
Bacon: The Gateway Meat

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 2 comments

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hail Virginia Redux

Five years ago today, I composed a new Virginia state song, insignificantly outraged that the land of yearly car inspections had been without official music since 1998. Because of its saucy lyrics, the previous song, "Carry Me Back", was designated by the General Assembly as "state song emeritus". (For those of you who did not go to college, this means that the song has the obligation to show up at least once a week and look pretty in the brochure, but is under no obligation to actually teach anything).

There's probably a touch of favouritism involved when Virginia isn't allowed to say "old darkey", but Arkansas can have an overtly sexual song called "You Run Deep In Me" and innuendo-oozing lyrics like "mallards sailing on a December wind". Regardless, or irregardless, we have now been without a state song for 14 years -- even Maryland has one ("Oh Christmas Tree"), and it's a sad day when Maryland is better than Virginia at anything.

To rectify this situation, I would like to shine a renewed spotlight on my completely inoffensive replacement song, Hail Virginia. With enough new exposure, my hope is that this song will end up trending on Twitter and then noticed by the General Assembly. ("Trending" is when you have nothing original to share on your Twitter account so you just talk about what everyone else is talking about).

Hear it sung by the composer, formerly an accredited ear training instructor at the Florida State Department School College Dominion of Music
Hear the marching band version that the UVa Pep Band will lipsynch to, should they ever be allowed back into any sporting events

To raise awareness of this musical gem, which Wagner would have killed Mendelssohn to think of first, I am also willing to arrange it for other groups besides a marching band. Post your suggestions in the comments section and I might oblige!

tagged as green (recycled) content, music | permalink | 1 comment

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Review Day: Dishonored

There are no major spoilers in this review.

The fact that Dishonored tops so many 2012 Game of the Year lists leaves me mildly incredulous, not unlike the year that Lost in Translation was up for Best Picture. The game is not bad by any stretch of the definition: I appreciate that it's not an assembly line sequel, and that it squeezes five pounds of potential into a three pound bag. Ultimately though, it's just kind of boring.

Dishonored is a revival of the first-person stealth genre, in which you spend 10 minutes hiding behind a crate waiting for a guard to change positions, only to reload your last save game when another guard somehow manages to see you through an opaque brick wall. The mechanics have improved over the past fourteen years, and this game is much more forgiving in many regards. Apparently no one in the city of Dunwall ever looks up higher than their top shelf.

The graphics and soundtrack are unmemorable, but good enough to support the shell of a story, which is also unmemorable. You play the game as the Empress' bodyguard, falsely accused of murder, and set loose in a city that's half Industrial Revolution and half zombie movie. You are a silent protagonist, which might have saved ten bucks on voiceovers, but really just makes you seem kind of douchey. It feels like there are scads of backstory and history just underneath the surface, but the plot never does a good job of tying it all together, or making you care. The tone of the (somewhat abrupt) ending also changes based upon the choices you make during the game, but the unforgivably large number of unskippable cutscenes and dialogue options deterred me from a second playthrough almost immediately. Sure, you can skip every scene featuring zombie James Franco, but you still have to listen to the shopkeeper's 15 second dialog every time you want to buy something.

The game's biggest selling point is its open-ended gameplay mechanic. As you stalk through the city, hellbent on either revenge or justice, there are always multiple solutions to every situation, from lethal to nonlethal, and from stealthy to guns blazing. If a door is guarded by a swarthy thug, you might scale the rooftops to get around it. Or, throw a bottle down the alley to distract him. Or, sneak up behind him and knock him out. Or, sneak up behind him and slit his throat. Or, shoot him with a sleep-laced crossbow bolt. Or, use your loud pistol and get through before reinforcements arrive. Or, (WAIT, THERE'S MORE) summon a swarm of magical rats to devour him (!). Or, possess a rat and squeak around him. (Or, type IDDQD and walk through the nearest wall). The sheer number of options available leads to indecision apathy and reduces the excitement of the choice you finally do make -- I don't even do well at restaurants where the menu is more than three pages long.

As you play, you'll find that certain solutions are always the easiest and have the least amount of risk, partly because the enemies are dumb as bricks and have multiple astigmatisms, and partly because magic makes everything easier (unless you're Harry Potter and in search of an arbitrary number of magical doohickeys to stretch out your storyline into a seventh book). There's never a good reason to try the harder alternatives unless you're playing the game solely to challenge yourself, so I often felt like I was playing by rote. It doesn't help that upgrades to your weapons and skills make you nearly invincible long before the final mission.

Dishonored as a sandbox framework for emergent gaming is much better than Dishonored as a game. There are all sorts of informal challenges you can restrict yourself with (speed runs, never using magic, never being detected, or never killing anyone are popular choices). While I didn't enjoy this game as much as I'd hoped, you might enjoy it if you treat it more like a steampunk Grand Theft Auto.

Final Grade: C+

tagged as reviews, games | permalink | 0 comments

Friday, January 31, 2014

End-of-the-Month Highlights Day

New in 2014, I'll be recording my major and not-so-major events at the end of every month, so future archaeologists can reconstruct my life for the movie version. I'm still irritated that there are two Thanksgivings in recent memory which I cannot remember (even with an assist from the family), and it's possible that I was abducted by aliens in one or both of those years.

  • Events
    • We had a late Christmas dinner with Rebecca's family on the 4th.

    • We planned to go snow tubing on the 11th but rain and colds all around led to cancellation, and we just attended the birthday party portion (for Katie A.) instead. I played the game, Anomia.

    • I went to two of Rebecca's work happy hours, at American Tap Room on the 9th and Mellow Mushroom on the 16th.

    • We finally got real snow on the 21st, coinciding with a special election handily won by Democrats.

    • We went to Amanda's birthday party on the 25th.

    • We booked a snazzy beach house to look forward to on the 26th (pool, hot tub, and Wifi -- check!). And for the first time in beach history, Evil Mike and his wife will be joining us on the adventure.

    • The fan motor on my outdoor heat pump died again, essentially giving up on life after continuous weeks of alternating ice, rain, and snow. Cascades Comfort Services fixed it up quickly as always on the 29th.

    • Tonight, we're going to a game night in Centreville at Erin's house.

  • Projects
    • At work, I'm doing the exact same thing I did in 2006 (replacing WebLogic with Tomcat) but on a different project. There's also some proposal work on the side.

    • In side projects, I finished an annual purge of the file cabinet, released a version of Auricle (and then promptly did nothing with it for the rest of the month), and averaged about 12 miles per week on the treadmill.

  • Consumerism
    • Game-wise, I have been playing a lot of Borderlands 2, Mario and Luigi: Dream Team, and New Super Mario Brothers 2.

    • I also watched Person of Interest, Dexter, Treme, Burn Notice, and Justified. Only one movie this month: her.

    • I have not listened to much new music yet, although I did just pick up the new Dirt Poor Robins album.

    • This month, I switched to an electric toothbrush and boxer-briefs, and bought a new Hoover vacuum cleaner. I also purchased a wall calendar with pictures of goats standing in trees and reupped my Wired subscription.

January's Final Grade: B

Did I miss anything?

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

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

End-of-the-Month Highlights Day

New photos have been added to the Life, 2018 album. Google Photos sucks.

  • Events
    • Rang in the New Year with Sara, Car, and Ben in the comfort of our living room on M 1/1. Had Wegmans sushi for dinner on the night of the 1st after discovering that all of the delivery restaurants were closed.

    • Sara left our basement and went back to cold Minneapolis on W 1/3.

    • It snowed gently on H 1/4.

    • Maia got a visit from Marc on F 1/5. We had the slowest papusas ever from Papusa Express that night.

    • Rebecca's dad came over for a shrimp fettucini dinner on S 1/6.

    • Maia had her 6 month pediatric visit on M 1/8, then took visiting tours of my office and Inova PT Center in Tysons.

    • We went down to the Ahlbins for an overnight on F 1/12.

    • We had a Cafesano family date on T 1/16 after testing out our giant jogging stroller.

    • It snowed gently on W 1/17.

    • Tammy came over for a stir fry dinner in our long-lost wok on F 1/19.

    • We took a strolled walk all across the trails of Reston on S 1/20. Then, Rebecca took Maia to Uncle Dave's birthday party in Taylorstown while Brian went out for a solo date at Miller's Ale House where he ate 35 fried shrimp.

    • Rebecca took Maia to a dog's birthday party on S 1/21.

    • Aunt Carol came to visit Maia on H 1/25.

    • Rebecca finally cashed in her raffle massage, mani, pedi at the Four Seasons on F 1/26 (won at SterlingFest in October '17).

    • Rebecca had an all-day PT class on S 1/27 so Brian and Maia went to the Uris in Alexandria. We had subs from Joe's Pizzaria for dinner and watched The Big Sick.

    • Rebecca and Maia met up with Jessika at a farmer's market on S 1/28. Brian ended up with a shoulder / neck muscle ailment that prevented him from sleeping comfortably most of the night.

    • Visited the Uris again with Maia on W 1/31.

  • Projects
    • Work and baby for the most part.

  • Consumerism
    • Got to level 1002 in Overwatch. Reinstalled Fallout 4 but having trouble getting past the abysmal UI and long load screens.

    • Enjoyed The Big Sick and consuming Westworld somewhat tenatively.

    • No new music this month. I don't really listen to much new music anymore!

January's Final Grade: B-, January is always a pretty tedious month.

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

Friday, January 31, 2020

End-of-the-Month Highlights Day

New photos have been added to the Life, 2020 album.

  • Events
    • Dad-daughter dinner at Miller's on H 1/2.

    • Dinner at the Shrimp Lover with the Winters from across the street on S 1/4.

    • Holiday gathering of the Links and Whitmers in Taylorstown on S 1/5.

    • Made ramen for dinner with Marc on M 1/6.

    • It snowed just enough to build a 3-foot snowman on T 1/7.

    • Family dinner at Beer Bourbon Burgers on W 1/8.

    • Rebecca and Maia taught Lil Yogis class on S 1/11, followed by a pizza party at our house with Sena, Chih, and Nolan, and Mike, Aya, Lincoln, and Leo.

    • Went to the playground with several Forest School friends after finding that the Claude Moore pool was closed for maintenance on S 1/12. Had a solo dad dinner at Burton's while Rebecca and Maia explored Reston Town Center.

    • Visit to the Uri grandparents with Maia on W 1/15.

    • Family dinner at Miller's on S 1/18 followed by Poker Night.

    • Dad-daughter dinner at Fireworks Pizza on H 1/23.

    • Company holiday party at the MGM Resort on S 1/25 while Maia had an overnight visit to the grandparents' house.

    • Went to a new dentist, right down the street, on M 1/27.

    • Dad-daughter dinner at Miller's on W 1/29.

    • Toured Maia's potential preschool on H 1/30.

    • Visiting the Ahlbins in Fredericksburg on F 1/31.

  • Projects
    • Booked a beach house for the Olympics in July.

    • Got HOA approval for our screen porch.

  • Consumerism
    • Dabbled in Fallout 4 until it became a pointless grind cycle again. Resubscribed for a month of World of Warcraft after reading a book on its development and feeling nostalgic.

    • Enjoyed watching Parasite and Good Girls, Season Two this month.

    • No new music this month.

January's Final Grade: B, Too cold without enough snow, but easy and pleasant.

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

Monday, January 31, 2022

End-of-the-Month Highlights Day

New photos have been added to the Life, 2022 album.

  • Events
    • Enjoyed unseasonably warm weather for a visit to Frying Pan Farm on S 1/2.

    • Cold snap snow day on M 1/3, which Maia spent almost entirely outside in the snow.

    • Snow Day, Part II on T 1/4.

    • Yet another snow day on F 1/7.

    • Rebecca returned to work on S 1/15. Had dinner with the parents in the evening.

    • Snowy afternoon on S 1/16.

    • Went to my first HOA meeting in 17 years on W 1/19.

    • Maia visited my parents for the weekend following a brief snow, S 1/30 - T 1/31, but came home early due to fever.

  • Projects
    • Had the basement shower overhauled, W 1/5 - T 1/18.

    • Gave a presentation on Proposal Reviewing at work, M 1/31.

  • Consumerism
    • Enjoyed watching the final season of Silicon Valley.

    • No new music this month.

    • Playing Fallout 4 until I get bored of it again.

January's Final Grade: B-, too cold, and annoying to have workers in the house for two weeks

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

 

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