This Day In History: 02/01

Friday, February 01, 2002

There's an important lesson I've learned from the assorted presentations I've given since the beginning of the school year. Even though my presentations may not contain fillips of unbridled ingenuity, hot damn, people sure do like my fonts. Except for its letter "e", the Technical font which has been my standard font for about seven years seems to evoke universal admiration from professor and student alike. Not that I had anything to do with it, other than installing it, of course.

I was reviewing some works for the jazz history listening exam yesterday and found that some of the performances are horrible. People, especially jazz-oriented people, tend to blur the distinction between historic recordings and good recordings. Yes, that tenor sax chart may be the first recorded instance of bebop, but the performance sounds like a cat choir vomiting hairballs in unison.

"Wagner did not like the saxophone. He said 'it sounds like the word Reckankreuzungsklankewerkzeuge'." - Nicolas Slonimsky

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Saturday, February 01, 2003

The New Music Festival is merrily rolling along. I've gone to three concerts so far and they've all had their good points, although the student works' concert was incredibly long. The Penderecki Quartet performed four string quartets last night and sounded excellent, despite a violinist with inebriated Muppet performance syndrome. I also think I've discovered a reliable formula to creating contemporary music, which requires equal parts of the following musical fragments:

  • silence followed by a Schwanter-esque piano hook and Schwanter-esque percussion use
  • a solo flute playing a melody with a contour similar to a cross section of the Himalayan Mountains' topography
  • violin, or multiple strings, with bowings slow and raspy enough to imitate Florence Foster Jenkins with laryngitis
  • Feedback from one or more hearing aids turned up too high
  • An occasional tutti unison to fake out the audience with tonic. Or is it?
  • People coughing

What happened to the shuttle Columbia during the concert was a tragedy. I can still remember being a first grader in the library for "Reading is Fundamental" when Challenger exploded in 1986 (I was looking through the Berenstein Bears books for one I didn't have, and there were TVs set up so students could watch the launch). The Bush administration threw the "terrorism" keyword into the mix at the outset, but luckily they've been well-behaved so far and haven't declared war on the axis of space.

Happy Chinese Lunar New Year. Apparently it's the Year of the Sheep.

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Sunday, February 01, 2004

We left Northern Virginia yesterday around 9:30 to go see Miss Saigon. After driving around the uselessly twisty portion of 495 above DC, and paying some of our booty on tolls through Maryland, we arrived in Wilmington, Delaware, a small pocket of urban blight that looks just like a real city, but only four blocks across. After six miles of suburb driving in search of a national chain for lunch, we finally stopped at Arby's (being the only choice besides Dunkin' Donuts and one McDonald's).

The show took place at the DuPont Hotel/Theatre at 2 PM, and was filled with the usual mix of high-class old folks and sleek yuppies. The production itself was quite good, especially considering its roots as a gargantuan epic. The orchestrations managed to survive with eleven musicians rather than forty-some, though the lead trumpeter occasionally sounded like he was doing Stamp warmups instead of playing musically.

The cast was hit or miss, although Jennifer Hubilla as Kim, and Jon Jon Briones as the Engineer were perfect. Alan Gillespie as Chris was the least-whiny Chris I've heard to date, though he took a page out of Ewan "Belty" MacGregor's book whenever he had a solo. Mics were not necessary for him. John was good enough, though he could have wailed a little more in the gospel-y solos, and Thuy was Mexican, so I couldn't understand most of his dialogue (and when I could, it didn't have much emotion).

The only true sore spot of the production was the actress playing Ellen, a dowdy "clenches fists and closes eyes for high notes" performer who sparked zero sympathy as Chris' wife. She should be noted for almost single-handedly destroying the emotional buildup of the story in her final solo, but luckily she only had two real songs, and the Engineer did such a great job in the following number that she was quickly forgotten. You'd think there'd be better performers out there capable of the role (especially since Kim and the Engineer were so good), or at least the actress would improve after a year on the road with the show...

Yesterday's notable search terms:

    maverin, scratch built seige tower, "no genitalia" and "holding a sword", everflow baby seat car, laws on interfamily marriages, hurtntime, what is the ph level of the occoquan reservoir, rome founding by trojans, tim galyen, geoffrey hung

FSU has 'tight' dinners for recruits
But not as 'tight' as Colorado
101 Dumbest Business Moments in 2003

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Tuesday, February 01, 2005


I got a letter in the mail today saying that I've won the Spanish Lottery. Dios mio!

'Blair' doodles amuse Number 10
The downsides of one-night stands
Cody in trouble

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Tag Day: Four Things

Happy February 1! January was easily the slowest month in the history of months, but it's finally over. Do you feel old yet? I'm chipper today because this is the first February where I've had the calendar up on the sidebar, and it looks like the code I wrote to figure out leap years is working wonderfully.

I wrote today's update on Monday when Kim got tagged, since I presumed a tag would be imminent, but then she decided to upset the status quo by not tagging anyone and I was left with an unprovoked tag post like an overeager European schoolboy trying to clap all the erasers before being asked. That analogy doesn't really work, but analogies are allowed be completely inappropriate as long as they sound unusual enough to interest the reader. So as not to deny you my answers, here they are -- you could say that I tagged myself, except that it sounds rather dirty, and this is a family-oriented site, dammit.

Four jobs I've had in my life

  1. Software Engineer for the Big Bucks (FGM) and for the Not So Big Bucks (PEPCO)
  2. Sightsinging/Theory Teacher for Musically Deficient Students
  3. Marching Band Drill Writer
  4. Stage Crew Foreman for the Alexandria Symphony

Four movies I can watch over and over

  1. Memento
  2. Back to the Future trilogy (yes this is cheating)
  3. The Fugitive
  4. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade or maybe Conspiracy Theory

Four places I've lived

  1. Alexandria, VA (1979 - 1996)
  2. Blacksburg, VA (1996 - 2001)
  3. Tallahassee, FL (2001 - 2003)
  4. Sterling, VA (2004 - 2006)

Four TV shows I love to watch

  1. Alias (cancelled)
  2. LOST (not yet cancelled)
  3. Arrested Development (cancelled)
  4. Scrubs (might as well be cancelled)

Four places I have been on vacation

  1. Burton, MI at my grandparent's house
  2. Outer Banks in various rental houses (I'm not trendy enough to be allowed to call it OBX)
  3. Henderson, NV on a turkey ranch
  4. Sterling, VA (!)

Four of my favourite dishes

  1. Popeye's 2 Piece Meal (Dark, Mild) with Fries
  2. Tuesday Tenders with Mild Buffalo Wing Sauce, no seasoning on the fries, mushrooms instead of coleslaw
  3. Two Banquet Chicken Pot Pies
  4. Velveeta Shells and Cheese

Four websites I visit daily

  1. News: CNN, Portal of Evil, and Slashdot
  2. NoHunters Forum and the other NoHunters Forum
  3. All the blogs in the sidebar
  4. The Superficial

Four places I would rather be right now

  1. The Outer Banks
  2. Right where I am with Booty in my lap and Amber choking down a blinds cord
  3. In the White House repealing stupid laws, having just beat Arnold Schwarzenegger in a national election decided by a thumb-wrestling match after our tie for the vote
  4. In my pants

Four bloggers I am tagging

  1. Anna
  2. Rachel
  3. Kathy
  4. Annalyn
I know that none of you clowns have blogs, but you do visit regularly, so you can pick any four of these categories and answer in the comments section! Who says you can't have fun in the URI! Zone? This is like the SmarterChild of the new millenium.

Janet Reno sings RESPECT
Another said of Sen. Tom Coburn that: "Coburn was voted the most annoying Senator by his peers in Congress. This was due to Senator Coburn being a huge douche-bag."
The animals are said to respond well to the strains of Beethoven and Mozart, but are not fans of pop or dance music.

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Musical Patriotism Day

There was an article in the Post yesterday about Virginia's revived interest in picking a new state song that doesn't offensively talk about darkies. The last time they tried to pick one, the committee could not reach a consensus on any of the finalists' songs -- and now our poor state has been tuneless for almost seven years. We at the URI! Zone consider this to be a travesty of the second highest order, and hypothesize that it could not possibly take almost a decade to come up with a song that everyone can love. To prove this, I sat down at my keyboard after dinner last night and allowed the creative energies of this blue-ridged state to course through me like the James River, but with less pollutants and foam. Three hours later, I found inspiration:

Listen to Hail Virginia (590KB MP3)

If you are a Virginia resident, please do our heritage proud by e-mailing your state representative today to recommend my wonderful song. Thank you and God bless America.

Mooninites trigger bomb scare
Naked student interrupts lunch
Outbreak of mat herpes triggers wrestling ban

tagged as mock mock, music, favourites | permalink | 7 comments

Friday, February 01, 2008

Friday Fragments

♠ I managed to catch a case of what was either elephantiasis or a flu-like cold on Wednesday which is the reason there was no update that day. I spent almost all day Thursday sleeping it off, but did make sure that I was awake for LOST in the evening.

♠ The twist at the end of last season's LOST could have very easily destroyed the show if handled improperly, but after watching the season premiere, I'd say that they've not only managed to meet expectations, they've also revitalized the show in a big way. I give it two Booty's up.

♠ My tenth grade English teacher, Mrs. Riviere, had three grammatical rules she was fanatical about: Use because of instead of due to all the time, not only must always be followed by but also, and alot is not a word. I always have trouble with the second rule (see also, previous fragment), because but also fits into sentences about as well as a Goth in the Key Club.

♠ One time in English class, we moved our desks into a circle and had to recite "Alot is not a word" in turn. This inanity lasted for half a revolution around the circle before Laura Moody screamed, "Alot is not a word, goddammit!" She was one of the weird drama people who gave me a Purple Platypus which was last seen on top of Ella's head .

♠ Stuffonmybaby could be a good sequel to the now defunct stuffonmycat.com. I bet there could be a massive subculture just waiting for someone to rake in the advertising dollars... stuffonmybaby.com, stuffonmystuff.com, stuffonmyweiner.com, stuffonmywife.com.

♠ I don't see how any money is ever made on web advertising. The only time I ever click Google Ads is when owners of a site ritualistically remind me, "we're not supposed to tell you this but please click on the banners today" to drive up their clicks.

♠ The worst kind of web advertisements today are the animated ones that float over the page and interfere with your reading. A close second are the mortgage ads with the dancing man/woman/alien. It's almost like there's a contest to come up with the most obnoxious ad ever.

♠ If I were to come up with such an ad, it would involve the Question Mark Suit guy, the loud guy from the Oxy-Clean infomercial, and the truth anti-smoking campaign. These images would fill up your entire screen then automatically close your browser and deliver free samples of the product to your mailbox.

♠ This weekend will include such activities as getting well again, eating ziti, gaining chips, and playing Warsong Gulch. Since it's the heart of winter, all activities are supposed to be indoors and of a hibernating variety. What are you doing this weekend?

♠ Happy Birthday to Stretch! Have a great weekend everyone!

Introducing the Battle Blaster
Josh Holloway interview on LOST
Bloggers are the new threat

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Monday, February 01, 2010

Weekend Wrap-up

After consecutive weekends of holiday parties and beer clubs, the final one went out like a librarian (quietly and in sensible clothing), most likely because of the fact that the threat of snow always holds the schedules and economy of northern Virginia by the gonads.

After doing a little pre-Spring-Spring-cleaning on Friday, we drove around the corner to get sushi at Golden China, one of several adjective-noun-style restaurants that you'd get delivery from but would never think of stepping inside. The interior of the restaurant was shabby and nearly empty, but the sushi was pretty good, coming from a restaurant of the wrong ethnicity, and had sizable portions that filled us up -- there was so much cream cheese in the Philadelphia rolls that you could have used it as a tube of tasty toothpaste.

I took a quick trip to Costco pre-snow to stock up on steaks and Kona Brewing Company beers (sadly no Pipeline Porter, though) and then hunkered down at home in expectation of a Weather Experience, which sounds a little like what you might buy from a travel agent if you couldn't afford a real vacation. By the afternoon, we were between 5 and 6 inches, and I rotated my activities between shoveling, doing work-work, and improving the URI! Zone feed to include daily birthdays and poll notifications for all twelve of my subscribers who don't get to see those things in the sidebar.

On Sunday, we drove out to Front Royal to visit with Rebecca's cousin's family, where we ate cookies, played games, and got pounced by giant dogs. They didn't have as much snow out west, which makes about as much sense as a dearth of music majors at JMU, so the trip was much easier than expected.

Today is the first day of February. Have you done your Christmas shopping yet?

Key witness bought Internet degree
Rip Torn charged with bank robbery
State hopes to harness the power of the Three Wolf shirts

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Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Chart Day

Consequences for Drivers Who Sit Beyond the Crosswalk at a Red Light

Professor charged with peeing on colleague's door
Feral fowl foil followers
Jail For Pilot Too Drunk To Name Destination

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Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken during a Court of Honor ceremony with Boy Scout Troop 131 in 1990. The folks on either side of me were all of the Life and Eagle rank scouts in the troop, and we were probably doing some sort of circle-based oath-reciting. Although I haven't had to recite any of the Scout stuff in years, I can still remember that a Scout is supposed to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. To this day, I shower regularly, about 1.5 times per day.

US bars friends over Twitter joke
School bans fuzzy boots used to hide cell phones

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Friday, February 01, 2013

The Daily Hour

The Daily Hour experiment continues with only 3 days skipped in the month of January (all blamed on Evil Mike's various wedding activities). I have not yet tired of any activities yet, so the basic categories I've selected from remain the same. However, I will probably get around to learning some new computer languages in the near future.

The chart on the right shows how I've spent my time so far. I've made progress in each area and learned a few lessons along the way.

  • Wikipedia: My daily reading of the featured Wikipedia article is occasionally enlightening, but more often boring. People seem to enjoy creating long, tedious articles for trivia tidbits that could be explained more clearly in a single sentence or on the back of a Trivial Pursuit card. Also, Wikipedia articles about single episodes of TV shows are dumb.

  • Paravia: I have successfully broken the inertia of my year of inactivity on this wiki exercise.

  • Organization: I have sorted several files, cleaned up tons of junk on my computer, and cleaned out that top shelf full of wine bags in the dining room.

  • Exercise: There are no episodes of 24 left, so that must mean I'm permanently done exercising. However, Rebecca does not approve of this interpretation, so I'm now rewatching the less sucky epsiodes of Community.

  • E. Bass: I'm trying to relearn the exercises I can already play, but without open strings. It seems pedagogically poor to introduce open strings up front if you're just going to instruct me to stop using them ten pages later, right? Right?

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Monday, February 01, 2016

Weekend Wrap-up

The longest month of the year finally closed out with warmer temperatures and some neighborhood roads still tricky to navigate. We had no big outing plans for the weekend, but enjoyed the ability to live normally after the blizzard. On Friday night, we tried out a service, Blue Apron, that delivers a 3 pack of interesting meals with just enough ingredients for two people. We started with a shrimp and pineapple rice meal paired with a riesling that Rebecca picked up on her way home.

On Saturday, I hit Costco to replenish our low winter supplies of red meat and grains. In the evening, my parents came over for a late-late Christmas and a dinner of corned beef and cabbage. We talked about the 8 million TV shows they've watched in the "Nordic Noir" genre recently and then ended the evening with Kingsman: The Secret Service, starring Colin Firth as an action hero.

Sunday was a quiet recovery day, with Rebecca off at her penultimate yoga teacher training classes for most of the day. I puttered around the house, charted the drastic loss in our mutual funds since last month, and then learned how to navigate my new phone. For dinner, we ate Blue Apron meal #2: Chicken Pot Pies (review to follow when we've eating all 3).

How was your weekend?

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Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken 27 years ago, in 1990. The guy with the 80s hair was Jon, the Senior Patrol leader, and the middle guy was Eric, my Patrol Leader (I believe we were the Panther patrol).

Though I had only been in the Boy Scouts for 15 months, I was well on my way to overachieving through merit badges. At the time of this picture, I was in 7th grade (and still wearing British Knights). As the troop librarian, I carried a giant metal box (as big as I was) full of merit badge books to each meeting so people could borrow them. This lasted about a week before I subverted the natural order by indexing the collection, giving everyone a copy off the dot matrix printer, and telling them to call me on the phone if they wanted me to bring just one merit badge book to the next meeting. No one ever did.

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Friday, February 01, 2019

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Patriot, Season Two:
I liked the first season when I watched it, then loved it when I watched it again with Rebecca. The second season is slightly more absurd with less payoff but I appreciated how tonally and thematically consistent it was -- the creator definitely has a unique voice and cinematography that he stays true to. A couple of the characters I liked the most from season one were pushed to the sidelines here, but it was still worth a watch.

Final Grade: B-

The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu:
This highly-regarded sci-fi book is flawed. The core ideas are actually pretty interesting but held back by flat characters and the fact that it's an English translation of a Chinese work. The last third of the book is actually the best part and does a good job of merging the science with the plot, but it takes forever to get there. I almost gave up around the 40% mark.

Final Grade: C+

Eighth Grade (R):
Bo Burnham's movie on the difficulty of being an eighth grader feels very honest, even without the craziness of phones and social media added to the mix. It effectively captures that middle school feeling of "I'm so much more mature than I was last year and I'll never make the same mistakes again" and makes me hope that the technology pendulum swings back towards being Amish by the time Maia is in 8th grade. Free on Amazon Prime.

Final Grade: B

Sing Till You Die by Yearbook Committee:
I occasionally buy albums ear-unheard based on singles I liked on Pandora. In this case, it was the instrumental, Old Churchyard. This album had two catastrophic negatives going against it -- none of the musicians seem to be able to carry a pitch, and none of the rest of the songs are instrumentals. As I played the album the first time, the rate at which I skipped awful-sounding songs like Ballad of Eleanor Cecilia Bailly accelerated towards the speed of light after which I permanently deleted it.

Final Grade: D-

tagged as reviews | permalink | 1 comment

Monday, February 01, 2021

Snow Day

We got a few meager inches of snow on Sunday, enough to shovel and enjoy. Maia watched it fall all through breakfast and then demonstrated her snow angel expertise.

Later, she army crawled across an entire cul de sac for reasons known only to three-year-olds.

We tried sledding down a short hill with a boogie board, but bodysurfing turned out to be much more effective.

"AaaaaaAAAAaaaaAAaaaaAAAAhhh!"

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