This Day In History: 02/03

Sunday, February 03, 2002

A random visitor found this site through yesterday. It's a little unsettling to think that, out of the entire Internet, my site is the third highest match for the search, "animations of squirrels".

Now that the first two movements of my quartet are done, I'm going to temporarily post MP3s of both, as mixed on the SC-8850. Since that module has sounds that aren't part of the General MIDI standard, an MP3 is useful for the accurate reflection of snap pizz's and spicc's (insert your own racially inappropriate punchline about mirrors here). As always, I'm looking for any honest feedback -- I even consider "It sucks." as worthwhile, as long as I get a couple reasons in support of it.

    Outlooks, I. The Cynics (6:00) (5.6MB)
    Outlooks, II. The Optimist (4:40) (4.3MB)

"I would only make you a bad Schoenberg, and you're such a good Gershwin already." - Arnold Schoenberg, when asked for lessons by Gerswhin

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Monday, February 03, 2003

I watched the movie Signs this weekend, which was "okay" but not spectacular. The pacing was almost as slow as Unbreakable and the pay-off was rather silly, though the movie was classic Shyamalan. Good for a couple hours of entertainment.

Last night's Alias was good. Ethan Hawke guest starred and fought his clone, and Christian Slater will be guest starring next week. Watch it more and maybe I'll stop gushing over it every week.

Waste hours of your life. I'm on level 40.
CNN has good lead as to cause of shuttle crash
We need this in Tallahassee

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Tuesday, February 03, 2004

The sellers have agreed to all the repairs listed in the sales addendum, so it looks like I'm on my way to becoming a happy homeowner.

Next stop: Pottery Barn™.

Yesterday's notable search terms:

    mussolini last words but ... but... colonel.., how to do drum major auditions, blackbeard the pirate burial place, "thesis the movie"

Valid excuse for robbing banks
Woman finds way to plug new movie, "Thirteen Going On Thirty"
Husband killed 'for bringing girlfriend home'

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Thursday, February 03, 2005

I've only heard two songs by the UK group, Kaiser Chiefs but they both suffer from the same disappointing lost potential. The group has a great sound and writes good intriguing verses, but they really suck at choruses, which are so repetitive that they make listening to the whole songs a chore.

Here is Exhibit A of catchy verse, from Oh My God:

Catchy Verse (MP3)

And here is Exhibit B: the self-defeating repetitive chorus which makes the song annoying:

Annoying Chorus (MP3)

Simple choruses are great for singalongs, but surely someone could have come up with ABAB or ABAC rather than AAAA.

The second song of theirs I heard was I Predict A Riot which is a little more palatable:

Catchy Verse (MP3)

And the dumb chorus, which at least has some semblance of consequent phrase:

Annoying Chorus (MP3)

Both songs also employ the jumbly-pitch rising effect, a la Day In the Life:

Stop Screaming (MP3)
Seriously (MP3)

Deputy Attorney General robbed by escorts
It is fun to shoot people.
Colleagues became suspicious after he bought a new car using banknotes from the robbery.

tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments

Friday, February 03, 2006

Friday Fragments

Fifty monkeys, two hours tops

  • The Oscar nominations have been announced with a whole lot of Crash going on. This is good for me because it means I can block off the last week in February for my completely wrong Oscar predictions, since it's something of a tradition now. Also, check out the trailer for the new movie, Brokeback to the Future .

  • I finally watched 40 Year Old Virgin two weeks ago. It was funny but about 20 minutes too long. I wish that they would stop making unrated-uncut versions of the DVDs unless the extra bits are actually worth watching. Two other movies from last year that I want to see but haven't gotten around to yet are Wedding Crashers and Broken Flowers.

  • One very cool thing I learned from the Virgin DVD is that a season of the old FOX show, Undeclared, is coming to DVD soon. I was in college when that show was prematurely cancelled, and really liked it. Or maybe I just really liked Lizzy Exely. Who didn't? It was cute that both Carla Gallo and Seth Rogen of Undeclared had parts in 40 Year Old Virgin.

  • I got an email from a specter of the past, Geoffrey King, saying that our high school reunion is definitely slated for the last weekend in July this summer. I'm still not 100% convinced that I should care or attend though. The email said that they're looking for people to sponsor the event and are also selling pizza kits to make money for it. Just because I sold cheese and sausage in high school doesn't mean I would want to do fundraising again for a reunion. They should just find the guy that became a multimillionaire straight out of college and get him to fund the entire thing. Surely are least one graduate of T.C. Williams went on to greatness, or at the very least, rose above the magnet of mediocrity.

  • My cough may be gone, but it's left me with a croaky, raspy voice which can no have falsetto face-offs with Dave Matthews. I almost sound like Sydney.

  • This is the first CNN poll I've ever seen that was evenly split. Generally the results are skewed by all those dirty liberal Internetters (since most conservatives don't use computers, so as to protect their families from the porn popup ads that will spew out of their CD drives and taint their conservative bastions of conservativism as soon as the computer turns on), so you'll see a question like "Should the Clothe-the-Naked-Homeless initiative also be applied to animals on nature preserves?" with 80% voting an emphatic YES and reader comments like "omg those por naked animals!!".

  • I've started drinking Coke Zero which has 0 carbohydrates, 0 calories, and 0 sugar. I always hated the lingering aftertaste of Nutrasweet so I never drank Diet sodas, but Zero products have some newer cancer-causing agent which doesn't leave any taste in your mouth after you drink it. Coke Zero definitely tastes slightly different than regular Coke, but it actually works as a beverage and I can enjoy it.

  • They also started stocking Diet Sprite Zero at work for free, which has me drinking lots of soda once again. I would think that the Diet and the Zero would cancel each other out, but I guess soda people just aren't very good at naming stuff.

  • Yesterday afternoon, I went to the grocery store and realized that my shopping list actually included "bread, milk, and eggs". After checking to make sure that I hadn't mysteriously become a housewife in a 1950s sitcom (the dress I was wearing confused me just a little), I added two packs of thick-sliced bacon and a bag of cookies to break the stereotypical shopping mold.

  • I find it hilarious that the Republican candidate for state senator lost the Loudoun County special election this week, and also managed to lose every single precinct, including the one he's from. What do you do after that? I guess there's nothing left for him to do but be caught drunk and naked with a hooker in his car, idling behind a seedy strip club, and then run for President.

  • I bought a new five-foot round folding table for the basement which should be perfect for all my gaming needs. It comfortably fits eight poker players, and it's made of a plastic compound. This means that if there are drinking games at next year's Halloween party, I won't have to worry that any wooden surfaces are getting beer-basted like a ten pound salmon.

  • This weekend, I plan on getting started on my Java certification and jumpstarting Poker Night for 2006. Obviously I'm going to win this weekend's game because of the pilgrimage I made over the winter to the Tibetan Poker Monks who taught me all their ancient secrets. Then on Sunday I have to study up on my county law so I can go to Jury Duty on Monday and send some innocent men to their death. I fully intend to stand up in the middle of court and shout out, "You can't handle the truth!". Then I'll storm out of the courtroom Saddam-Hussein-style and flee across the Mason-Dixon line to safety.

  • Have a great weeekend!

  • John Bolton, Washington's U.N. ambassador, tried to open his first meeting as head of the Security Council at 10 a.m. sharp on Thursday -- and was irked to find no other diplomats showed up.
    I used to have a glass eye, but now I'm okay...
    Human-animal hybrids will not be allowed in HOV lanes

    tagged as fragments | permalink | 4 comments

    Tuesday, February 03, 2009

    Museday Tuesday

    1. The composition can be for any instrumentation. It can have an actual score or be a pure synthesized realization that might not be possible to perform in the real world.
    2. It must not be longer than thirty seconds.
    3. It does not necessarily have to have a start, middle, and end -- it can just be a fragment of something grander.
    4. It should be composed in thirty minutes or less. If time runs out, I post whatever I managed to finish, be it good, indifferent, or makeup on a corpse.
    5. The title of the piece must be a word from a random word generator, although this word doesn't necessarily have to be incorporated in the piece.

    Adulterous: (adj.) characterized by or involved in adultery; illicit

    My Composition (0:30 MP3)

    I initially envisioned lurid lovers dancing to a spicy Latin cha-cha, but as a I wrote, it turned into a hybrid of a samba and a bossa nova instead. I opted to skip the repeat of the A section because B(U) sections are more fun to compose. This little excerpt feels a bit simpler than normal, although the trumpet melody is definitely something I'd write.

    Disc jockey parts with Jenny's number
    Lost thieves hole up in bank lavatory
    Man delivered stolen newspapers for years

    tagged as museday | permalink | 1 comment

    Wednesday, February 03, 2010

    Vocabulary Day

    learning words the first grader way

    Here is Ken.

    I never actually knew anyone named Ken, but based on his crippled flamingo physique, I'm guessing that he would have been that friend who came to houses only to find all the lights off and the occupants scarcely daring to breathe in the foyer, hoping he'll go away.

    Ken and Beth can swing.

    If you don't know how to spell a word, it's completely acceptable to use pictograms -- even the ancient Egyptians did this from time to time. Also, it seems that Ken lost both of his forearms performing the exact same dangerous trick that Beth is attempting right now. Be careful, girl!

    Dad's car is leaking oil.

    Dad is kind of a fop, and should have known that when he bought a car to match his jump suit, it would have transmission problems. Then again, the heavy smog would have exacerbated the problem either way.

    This cake is dry, not moist.

    Determining the relative hardness of a cake using only a hammer sounds like a job for Mr. Wizard. My dot-matrix printer seems to have run out of black ink when printing the birthday banner, but thankfully, I seem to be receiving a bag of purple ink cartridges for my birthday.

    See other vocabulary pictures in this entry.

    Derogatory 'Jeopardy' board launches TSA probe
    Students failing because of Twitter, texting
    Lost threesome find their way into Lake Huron

    tagged as memories, media | permalink | 3 comments

    Thursday, February 03, 2011

    Review Day

    There are no spoilers in these reviews.

    Tiger Suit by KT Tunstall:
    KT's third major album is a very different flavour from her previous ones -- there's more emphasis on synthesized effects and repetitive rhythms and less focus on acoustics. This CD didn't grab me on the first few listens, but it's grown on me over the past few weeks. It's a pretty mellow offering without any big hits, perfect for background music.

    Final Grade: B

    Despicable Me:
    This non-Pixar animated film is no Toy Story, but it's light enjoyable fare about a has-been villain who tries to steal the moon but gets sidetracked by fatherhood. I found his yellow minions to be more derivative than funny, but the voice acting is solid, and this is a pleasant way to spend 90 minutes.

    Final Grade: B

    The Social Network:
    Apparently, the studio believed that no one would watch this movie without accolades plastered all over the cover, but I thoroughly enjoyed this story of Facebook's origin. Facebook itself is almost secondary to the web of social relationships formed around Mark Zuckerberg, and Jesse Eisenberg does a solid job of portraying his social awkwardness without making him completely unlikeable. The account is also reasonably well balanced too -- although it has some Hollywood flair, it's not just a completely one-sided mudslinging job.

    Final Grade: B+

    The Guild, Season Three:
    In the third season, the online guild is falling apart because of real-life interference from a rival guild just as the new expansion pack arrives in stores. The production values have definitely gone up since Season One, although the bulk of the jokes will still make more sense to gamers than non-gamers. I felt that this season was as good as the previous one. (Note: as a web show, an entire season is only about 80 minutes long).

    Final Grade: B

    If not for postal clerks, puppy would have been DOA
    Man claims Glaxo drug made him 'gay sex addict'
    Meet Titanoceratops, the Hornier Ancestor of Triceratops

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 3 comments

    Friday, February 03, 2012

    Answers Day

    the award-winning follow-on to Questions Day

    How do you study for different types of certification? Is there a standard methodology you go by? Do you read books whenever you have a chance or do you set apart a pre-determined amount of time from the day?

    Start by figuring out how you might cover the material in a college semester (a week per chapter plus a week at the end to review?) Then sign up for the exam immediately based on the schedule. From that point on, it doesn't matter how motivated or unmotivated you are, you have an immovable deadline. In all likelihood, you WON'T study regularly every day or every week, and the decision to just cram is there if you want it. Remember that certifications, like public schools, are not about retention -- they're about proving to an employer that you have learned something at some point in the past.

    What do you listen to in order to relax?

    I am never not relaxed.

    If you ever had a job you just didn't like and something happened there that just made you decide you were done would you quit then and there, or would you still put in your two weeks? Would not having another job lined up already affect this decision? If you did stay those last two weeks would they still be productive at all?

    When I started my third summer as "computer science intern" at PEPCO and learned that they still weren't planning on giving me a computer (after spending the first summer optimizing their snail mail sorting and the second summer optimizing their internal websites from someone else's computer) I quit with one day's notice. I then spent the rest of the summer not looking for jobs while biking through Old Town every day. I've been lucky to have had great jobs ever since.

    I've found that high-achieving people not only do not consider themselves successful but in fact think they're doing markedly worse than their peers. How do you feel like you compare to your peers in terms of achievement? A graphic might be helpful in explaining it.

    Having grown up in an era where people said "you're so smart" rather than "you must have worked really hard at that", I lack ambition in most areas of life. I forgo risk, and regularly engage in arenas where it's already highly likely that I'll succeed. The graphic below might be helpful in explaining.

    Can you do a cartwheel?

    I can. At one point in my life I could do much more than a mere cartwheel, namely any gymnastics move that didn't require going backwards, as shown in the movie below:

    Entire village, minus one, wins the lottery
    Jesus can continue to Occupy Montana

    tagged as you speak | permalink | 5 comments

    Monday, February 03, 2014

    Weekend Wrap-up

    On Friday evening, we went to a game and pizza night in Centreville, where we played an 8 person game of Phase 10. Sadly, we only made it through 4 phases before attention started to wane. Our sleep that night was also interrupted twice by Amber throwing up all over the bedroom.

    On Saturday, we met Chris & Kathy for an adult date at the Ice House Cafe. We caught up on life events, backed up by oysters, ostrich steak, and the mellow sounds of live jazz, and tried to convince them to move to Loudoun County. Our sleeping was once again interrupted by cats throwing up, this time in the living room.

    On Sunday, Booty was under the weather to the point where she didn't even want to eat anything. She did empty her bowl under cover of darkness later on though, so hopefully she's on the mend. I worked for part of the day, and then we went to a Super Bowl party at David & Sabrina's in Manassas. We were underwhelmed by the game and the commercials (although the Radio Shack commercial was fun), and ended up leaving during the third quarter.

    Are you ready for more snow?

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

    Tuesday, February 03, 2015

    BUriversity: Course Topics

    With the recent popularity of massive open online courses (MOOCs), I thought it would be a good idea to jump on the bandwagon and do some teachin'. My university has no accreditation, although I did once pursue a Ph.D.

    To get the course list going, give me a concept or topic that you simply can't wrap your head around, be it a real educational topic or just something about daily life. I will employ speed reading techniques and academic ninja skills to learn everything about that topic in less than an hour, and then provide a witty, pedagogically sound distillation of the topic in a single post for your consumption.

    My courses will be absolutely free, although there will be an annual certification track that you can put on your LinkedIn profile for several thousand dollars. And, you don't have to worry about my lectures being incorrect -- the power of MOOCs and the democratic Internet in general is that if I write something completely wrong, you'll just have to scroll down through about 500 comments to find someone who actually knows what they're talking about to correct the mistake.

    So, what don't you know?

    tagged as buriversity, you speak | permalink | 5 comments

    Wednesday, February 03, 2016

    Memory Day: Snapshots

    This picture was taken in March 1980. My mom and sister are settling in to eat cotton candy while watching the Ringling Brothers Circus at the DC Armory. As I was only 6 months old at the time, I was abandoned with a babysitter for the duration.

    tagged as memories | permalink | 2 comments

    Friday, February 03, 2017

    Review Day

    There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

    Detectorists, Season Two:
    The second season is just as charming as the first and over much too quickly. Free on Netflix.

    Final Grade: B+

    Sneaky Pete, Season One:
    The pilot of this Graham Yost show is easily the weakest of the bunch -- the two years it spent in production since then has definitely turned it into more than just the "case of the week" network show I worried it would become. It comes across as a blend of the storytelling from Justified with the wry appeal of Better Call Saul, (but is never so grim that it's Breaking Badly unwatchable). In spite of all of the twists and double crosses, the plot is easy to follow, and provides enough season closure to feel satisfied, while still looking forward to season two. Free on Amazon Prime.

    Final Grade: A-

    Jim Gaffigan: Cinco:
    This is easily the funniest Gaffigan special since his earlier ones. The typical array of clean jokes about food, religion, and children are on display, and his live show timing is on point. Free on Netflix.

    Final Grade: B+

    I Am Not a Serial Killer (NR):
    This is a weird little movie that morphs into a different kind of movie by its end, and (unusually enough) I enjoyed both sides of it. A small town Rust Belt teen who has been diagnosed as a sociopath thinks he can track down the local serial killer since they think so much alike. It's also good to see Christopher Lloyd still acting. Free on Netflix.

    Final Grade: B

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    Monday, February 03, 2020

    Weekend Wrap-up

    Happy February!

    On Friday morning, we took a trip down to Fredericksburg to visit the Ahlbins and actually hit an I-95 sweet spot where I could drive faster than 20 mph. Maia alternated between loving the novelty of being kid #7 of 6 and needing a quiet corner to decompress in.

    We stayed until Saturday evening, then drove up the road to visit the Hickses for dinner. Heavy rains tried to keep us from home, but we made it back to Sterling on Saturday night in about 75 minutes.

    On Sunday, we had a half-hearted Super Bowl party with Chih, Sena, and Maia's best friend, Nolan, featuring two kinds of beef over rice: grilled teriyaki chuck roast with grilled pineapples, and pan-fried short ribs. We watched the game until halftime when the kids started getting tired then called it a night.

    How was your weekend?

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

    Wednesday, February 03, 2021

    Pool Table Day

    This coming Thursday, the basement pool table will finally be sent away to "live on the farm". Though we rarely actually played pool, it was a faithful backdrop to Halloween parties and barbeques over the past 17 years.

    The pool table was delivered and installed on June 9, 2004 by two guys that spent half the year driving around the country building pool tables. I ordered it over the Internet for $1700 after being snubbed in multiple local billiard stores by salesmen who didn't think a 24-year-old could afford a table and refused to go under $5000. (This is like the movie, Pretty Woman, except that I never went back to rub it in and I'm more attractive than Julia Roberts).

    Over the past few years, it was mainly a tool to distract children or keep food from falling on the ground. We finally decided to get rid of it to free up more family space in the basement. The pool table light ($240 from a 2004 Yahoo sales page) will remain, albeit cranked up to the ceiling so no tall people hit their heads. Underneath will be the big round table for poker and kid crafts. Surrounding the area will be additional storage space for all of the toys that Maia gets from her grandparents.

    tagged as memories | permalink | 1 comment

    Friday, February 03, 2023

    Review Day

    There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

    That 90s Show:
    This sequel series to the original (which went on for way too many seasons) hits the sweet spot between nostalgia and being able to stand on its own. Occasional cameos are nice, but the new characters are pleasant enough too. It's nice that this show is exactly what you'd expect -- no unnecessary modernization or obligatory edginess.

    Final Grade: B

    The Sandman, Season One:
    I'm not familiar with the comics or graphic novels so I went into this show blind and was very impressed. The show balances a lot of different tones successfully and is very visually creative. Some episodes are more traditionally plot-based while others feel like standalone anthology fables, but the disparate threads ultimately wrap up in a satisfying conclusion. There's also a bonus episode that's not part of the main storyline which I will review separately in a feeble attempt to stretch my website content to its absolute limit. On Netflix.

    Final Grade: A

    Everybody Hates Chris, Season Two:
    We petered out on this season and never finished it -- it ultimately fell into the old sitcom trap of treading water with no real reason to stay engaged. On Hulu.

    Final Grade: B-

    Turning Red (PG):
    This Pixar movie about a teen girl who turns into a red panda when she can't control her emotions is so ridiculous and unexpected that it ends up being surprisingly good. All of the swirling controversies when it was first released feel utterly contrived -- this is just a fun movie that doesn't take itself too seriously. It's definitely a movie targeted for the pre-teen audience, not younger kids. On Disney Plus.

    Final Grade: B+

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments


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