This Day In History: 02/25

Monday, February 25, 2002

The Wayne Brady Show is returning to prime time on March 4. It had a limited run last summer and was pretty entertaining, if highly derivative. Speaking of TV, my cable was out tonight although Comcast central found no signs of an outage in my area, so I missed Boston Public. I ended up composing instead. Oh, the horrors!

I've been slowly teaching myself MIDI manipulation when not doing other things. Nice effects are possible, even for a neophyte such as myself. Here's a before and after of a flute sample that I've tweaked with Finale and Orchestrator (MP3, 327KB).

There's not much news to report today. Obivously it wasn't one of my usual high octane days filled with wild women and cowboy adventures. Anyhow, the world is exciting enough without me when Britney Spears gets her own video game .

"A three-voice fugue . . . resembles a family of identical triplets in perfect agreement, or a madman talking to himself." - Ned Rorem

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Tuesday, February 25, 2003

For today's news update, I will tell an interesting story about some music I wrote over five years ago. Is it a tale of incredible coincidence or do I have some extraordinarily subliminal sense of pitch recall? You be the judge!

In the fall of 1997, I wrote a four movement work for solo trumpet and wind ensemble called The Hero. I had just finished the first movement and thought it would be clever and artistic to write the fourth movement next, creating book ends to contain the inner movements. Below, is an excerpt from the "A" melody of the fourth movement, taken from the trumpet line towards the middle of the movement.

The Hero Movement IV, solo trumpet part, m. 61

Understand that this was not the original melody -- the first occurrence of the melody was in a kind of Lydian major mode and, owing to the joys of rondo form, each successive repetition of the melody became a little more minor (undergraduate composers are always so clever). And in fact, the first occurrence of this melody was not the original germ -- it was a mutation of a brief character study I'd written a couple months earlier in the summer of 1997. In summation: This was not the melody as I originally wrote it.

Now fast forward ahead to the present day. This weekend (in between coding sessions), I was downloading old computer game soundtracks for the sake of nostalgia and to put my SC-8850 to good use. I do this on occasion because I'm a big nerd at heart, and it's always brings back warm memories to hear a tune from your childhood.

While downloading Nintendo songs, I came across the page for Quest Studios , an enterprise whose sole purpose is to preserve the soundtracks from the classic Sierra Quest games (like King's Quest, Space Quest, and Police Quest). I downloaded a few complete soundtracks for fun and saw that many were specifically mixed for Roland sound modules.

One of the complete Roland soundtracks listed was for Robin Hood: Conquests of the Longbow, a 1993 game whose music was written by the perennial Aubrey Hodges. I had vague recollections that the game was good, but honestly, I went through games in those years faster than a diarrhetic goes through clean underwear. I couldn't remember anything about the game's music, even though the game was released right at the end of the Ad Lib sound card years. So I download the soundtrack and load it up in WinAMP, only to hear this as the first track (after the classic Sierra fanfare):

Robin Hood: Conquests of the Longbow Music from the Introduction

Compare this excerpt with the melody I mutated five years later in The Hero. Look familiar? Even more incredible was the fact that it was in the exact same key and articulated the eighth notes in the same manner (there are no articulations in the MIDI extract here). The second phrase of the melody even jumps up to the high F -- the second beat of each excerpt is a C though you can't see it here. (Another note: I didn't even get into the composing biz until late 1995).

So what does this mean? Is it just an incredible coincidence? Did I somehow retain the computer theme subconsciously for five years, and then just happen to write a major-key theme that mutated into this one over two months? Do you think I'm just a smelly plagarist?

Harry Potter and the Fields of Fire
Real Joe Millionaire host bitter that she's not as witty as the butler, and is a vampire too.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2004

The Oscars, Part II of VI

Achievement in art direction
    The Nominees:
    Girl with a Pearl Earring
    The Last Samurai
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
    Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
    Seabiscuit

    What will happen?
    Movies (and children) should never be named Seabiscuit because it quickly dispels any drama and goodwill the movie has. Master and Commander will win the Oscar for nonsensical titles, but tragically that category has not yet been invented. The Last Samurai starring Tom Cruise as Tom Cruise will get a few votes but not enough to carry it. This leaves the Oscar up for grabs between Girl with a Pearl Earring and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Last year, I picked all the movies which were NOT going to get Best Picture, to make for a more democratic award environment. However, this year I'll have to jump on the bandwagon and say that The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King will win the Oscar in this art category.
Achievement in costume design
    The Nominees:
    Girl with a Pearl Earring
    The Last Samurai
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
    Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
    Seabiscuit

    What will happen?
    Movies (and children) should never be named Seabiscuit because it quickly dispels any drama and goodwill the movie has. Master and Commander will win the Oscar for nonsensical titles, but tragically that category has not yet been invented. The Last Samurai starring Tom Cruise as Tom Cruise will get a few votes but not enough to carry it. This leaves the Oscar up for grabs between Girl with a Pearl Earring and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Last year, I picked all the movies which were NOT going to get Best Picture, to make for a more democratic award environment. However, this year I'll have to jump on the bandwagon and say that The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King will win the Oscar in this costume category.
Achievement in makeup
    The Nominees:
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
    Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

    What will happen?
    All three of these movies should get the Oscar for making up long titles to increase self-importance. Every self-respecting movie is apparently supposed to have at least one colon, so The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King will earn this Oscar. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl's colon count is reduced by the fact that ghost pirates don't have colons. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is set in a time where there were colonies, but that's not quite the same.
Achievement in visual effects
    The Nominees:
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
    Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

    What will happen?
    No one will get the Oscar in this category, because voters will see the nominee list and presume that the makeup category was accidentally put on the ballot twice. To avert disaster, the Academy will have a quick executive consultation with Miss Cleo and give the Oscar to Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.

Yesterday's notable search terms:

    how does candy affect math test scores, pessimistic poem, augmented fourth brian uri hints

Barbie-wielding man stalks neighbourhood
Proposals gone bad
Eminem's publisher sues Apple
But let me let you in on a little secret: I am not as dumb as I look
Bull gores groin

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Friday, February 25, 2005
Short Film (Live Action)

    The Nominees:
    Everything in This Country Must
    Little Terrorist
    7:35 in the Morning
    Two Cars, One Night
    Wasp

    What will happen?
    A dangling Must is death when it comes to the Academy Awards. When was the last time you? Actually, these movie titles put together could probably be a good outline for a new movie script brimming with patriotism. Wasp will win though.
Sound Editing
    The Nominees:
    The Incredibles
    The Polar Express
  • Spider-Man 2

    What will happen?
    Incredibles wins. If the stars of these movies fought, who would win: The super heroes of the first, the weird no-expression zombie Tom Hanks train conductor, or Tobey Macguire?
Sound Mixing
    The Nominees:
    The Aviator
    The Incredibles
    The Polar Express
    Ray
  • Spider-Man 2

    What will happen?
    Ray gets its second Oscar of the night in this category. Interesting though, that this movie didn't get any nods for Music. Time for another Chris Rock joke.
Visual Effects
    The Nominees:
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
    I, Robot
  • Spider-Man 2

    What will happen?
    They can make whole worlds with computer graphics and can turn Dominic Monaghan into a midget with the press of a button, but they still can't make Spider Man look like he's actually swinging through the city. I, Robot will get a pity-Oscar here, so Will Smith can finally include the word "Oscar" in his resume, even though it wasn't really his.
Writing (Adapted)
    The Nominees:
    Before Sunset
    Finding Neverland
    Million Dollar Baby
    The Motorcycle Diaries
    Sideways

    What will happen?
    With so many recycled nominees, we're nearing the point of critical apathy. I'll cast my vote for Before Sunset, because it's only got one nomination this year.
Writing (Original)
    The Nominees:
    The Aviator
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
    Hotel Rwanda
    The Incredibles
    Vera Drake


    What will happen?
    I'm choosing Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind here. The writing was very unique (although I didn't like Charlie Kaufman's earlier stuff, like Adaptation. Though the others might have had great writing, they didn't necessarily have an innovation germ to start from.

Who will win? Who really cares?

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Weekend Wrap-Up

Though the rest of the area scoffed at the wintry mix that descended with all the subtlety of a tourist on a Metro escalator, my neighbourhood was slicked over in a thick sheaf of ice of Thursday night. Rather than deal with the driving, I just worked from home on Friday, getting things done with a cat in my lap and a forty mouse in my hand. In the evening, I hit up the local Blockbuster and rented a trifecta of movies. Over a pizza dinner, I watched We Own the Night, which was decent, and had a few suspenseful parts. Overall though, it felt like a poor man's Departed (Markie Mark's appearance in both didn't help things). I'm not a big Joaquin fan, and he slurred his lines so much I had to turn on subtitles. Final Grade: C+

On Saturday I took a Costco trip, a Petsmart trip, and a Shoppers trip and then did a little work around the house. After some rousing Warsong Gulch in the afternoon, I hosted a grand poker game in my kitchen where I came in last place. Luckily, I have access to the formulas in the master spreadsheet, so I will be in first place with a perfect winning or undefeated record against everyone and no one will ever know the difference. After poker, we played the new loopy version of Pictionary, and everytime I had to draw, I had to either do it with my eyes closed or without lifting my pencil off the paper. My team DID win that though, something which I attribute to the long hours spent as a child trying to cross busy streets while blindfolded (my dad wanted to improve my spatial reasoning skills for the SATs).

Sunday afternoon was a poker game at James and Diana's house, but it was a weird anomaly known as a "cash game" where you put "money" in and can "cash out" at "any time". I bought $10 worth of chips and twenty hands later I cashed in with $8 of chips. I'm sure the rest of the table was thrilled that I'd contributed $2 to the bulk pot. From there, I returned home to a simmering stock pot filled with corned beef and cabbage. The event was my dad's birthday (coming up on the 26th).

Post-dinner entertainment was Hot Fuzz a British parody of action/comedy/buddy flicks that was actually as hilarious as people said it was. I'd definitely recommend it even if you normally don't like British movies. This movie was also much better than its companion movie, Shaun of the Dead. Final Grade: A

Police say cliff rave was stupid
What's in a Beethoven Quartet? A Full Curriculum
Airline pilots may have slept past their stop

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

End-of-the-Month Media Day

Pictures:

See Sushi Night pictures
See Ella pictures
See February Festivities pictures
See Cat pictures

Movies:

Ella hanging around (5MB WMV)

New RNC Chairman wants hip-hop party
Cannibalistic rattlesnakes eat their dead
Florida tests using magnets against crocodiles

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Review Day for Chicks

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Invention of Lying:
This Ricky Gervais comedy tells the story of a man who learns how to lie in a world without falsehood. It's not that the people in this alternate reality can't lie -- it's that they have absolutely no word for, or understanding of, the concept of lying. However, it's hard to portray someone who doesn't understand lying without coming off as slightly dunceful, so all of the townsfolk, especially Jennifer Garner as the love interest, are an uneasy mix of naive and stupid. The movie idea is fun, but Gervais really doesn't do much with it, so there are a few moments of inspiration (like the scene in the previews where he invents Religion) amidst a sea of boredom and cameos.

Final Grade: C

(500) Days of Summer:
This is an indie film starring Zoey Deschanel and the actor who will be perpetually known as "that 3rd Rock kid", showing the evolution of a relationship over 500 days. The timeline is shown out of order, but each vignette begins with the numbered day it takes place on, so it's easy to follow. I enjoyed this movie even though that 3rd Rock kid's character is kind of a pansy. He's nowhere near as bad as the protagonist in Adventureland though.

Final Grade: B

Time Traveler's Wife:
Applying temporal filters to relationships seem to be all the rage this week. This movie tells the tale of a man with a mostly boring backstory who time travels uncontrollably, but can't help falling in love with Rachel McAdams after meeting her at various points throughout her life. It feels a little pervy when he shows up naked and she's six, but otherwise the time travel is just a plot device and doesn't get in the way of the story. A scene with McAdams rear nudity is negatively counterbalanced just moments earlier with a shot of her anorexic stegasaurus-like spine and ribs. Gross but momentary.

Final Grade: B

STEAK:
STEAK IS MANLY AND DELICIOUS AND INTERESTING TO MEN! (SEE ALSO, BEER).

FINAL GRADE: HELL YEAH!!

'It looked like ... sex on the dance floor,' Winnipeg student says
Woman says love handles saved her life
Triumph of the Cyborg Composer

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Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Fragments

one month closer to John Cusack on a giant boat at the end of times

♠ I recently read an article in the Post about the pervasiveness of red light cameras around the region. Personally, I don't have any problems with properly calibrated red light cameras, because people who run the light long after it has changed are pretty douchey by their nature.

♠ Of more pressing concern in my book are speed cameras. Speeding is a very green offense, because it reduces the number of cars on the road at any given time, increases productivity while decreasing travel time, and breaks up those viscious slow-moving pockets of drivers that threaten the throughput of roads. Plus, when you have a speed camera, you eliminate the enjoyable car game, "Spot the Cop", which I became a master at after five years of driving on I-81 to Blacksburg.

♠ Road Tip of the Day: That traffic light may turn red if you're speeding, but if you speed even faster, you can still make it through before it changes. However, this doesn't work on those curmudgeonly-red lights that treat green as a leap year holiday, like the one on my way to work.

♠ I've been a little less busy with work this week, as you can see by the fact that I only had to fall back on EZ updates (also known as Scrabble Day) once this week. And that update was originally going to be more ambitious, but our third game of Scrabble extended overnight, and when we returned to play the next day, Booty had knocked over all of the letters in a quixotic attempt to learn English. Maybe I'll teach her to understand more words than her name and "DINNER TIME FOR KITTIES" this summer.

♠ Speaking of pet projects, DDMSence has now had 380 legitimate downloads, which is like one download for every day of a leap year, and then one bonus download for each of the Holy Helpers. Had I monetized this library from the start with micropayments, I would probably have earned enough money for a gallon of gas or so, but then I would have had to report it on my tax forms.

♠ Sunday is going to be Tax Day in our household -- don't forget to mail me your $50 so you are in compliance with the URI code. Now that things are quieting down with work, maybe I'll even get to play some video games this weekend. The rest of the weekend will be punctuated by various dinners with various diners.

♠ Have a great weekend!

Introducing Pictionary with Legos
Gaddafi says protesters are on hallucinogenic drugs
Woman accused of aggravated assault over Girl Scout cookies

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Monday, February 25, 2013

Weekend Wrap-up: Luma Theater of Light

In lieu of the usual holiday party at a local hotel bar, my company did something a little different on Saturday night, apparently stressed out that they would have to top the awesome Air and Space Museum gala they held last summer. The evening's entertainment was "Luma Theater" at the Strathmore in Bethesda, with our free tickets normally running over $30.

The show was disappointing, starting from the forty minutes we sat on the road outside the venue while Obama's motorcade departed from the previous event, denying us the mingling and libation time that would have greatly improved the Luma portion of the evening. After arriving in our free seats at the back of the theater, we became inured to a two hour show involving people dressed in black, juggling with flashlights.

Were I visiting Busch Gardens on a sweltering summer day, I might step into a cool, air-conditioned building for temporary relief, and something like Luma might be a show I would enjoy seeing for all of ten minutes before returning to the queues for the Big, Bad Wolf. However, it never creeps beyond the "Well, that's nice" phase and certainly doesn't succeed as the main attraction. Rebecca's initial hopes that it would be kind of like Cirque du Soleil were irrevocably dashed.

Really, there's only so many minutes you can watch people dancing around wearing glow-sticks before you realize that the only gimmick is the absence of overhead lights, a phenomenon that occurs nightly in the natural world. It wasn't even very skillful -- the Luma Theater of Light had not claimed elemental mastery over Sound, and we heard the telltale clattering of juggling pins dropping to the floor on four separate occasions in a single skit. Performers were not quite in sync while dancing to popular tracks from Caribbean Tunes (with Ocean Sounds), and after the part where they asked everyone to pull out their cellphones to add to the light, most of the audience kept them out to check email for the rest of the show. A five minute monologue listing the different kinds of lights was reminiscent of Bubba Gump's shrimp.

By the time intermission came around, we had been watching for thirty minutes too long, with another forty-five minute section after the break. The high point of the show was when it ended and they threw beach balls into the audience, but even MUSE did that better at the Patriot Center.

As the performance was wending its way into overkill, I came up with some alternate titles that might have been better than "Theater of Light":

  • IMAX Presents: Tapeworms!
  • The Show After The Show that Obama Went To
  • Live Action Windows Media Player
  • Herndon High School Spring Play
  • Cirque du Soleil Sans Acrobatics or Contortionists
  • Screensavers of the 1990s
  • Puma Theater of Fright (assuming that they replace all of the glow sticks with vicious cougars)

Final Grade: D. Skip it unless you can get in for free, or they incorporate my idea about pumas (Creative Commons Attribution licensed).

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

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Quiz Day: Me Me Me!

See how much you know about me by answering the questions below. Hover your mouse over the right column to see the correct answers.

1 Where was I born?
  1. Alexandria, VA
  2. Seoul, South Korea
  3. Arlington, VA
  4. Busan, South Korea
B
2 Which sport would I most like to play?
  1. Badminton
  2. Bowling
  3. Starcraft
  4. Cornhole
A
3 What do I hate most in commercials?
  1. Hipsters
  2. Listing drug side effects
  3. Babies talking like adults
  4. Vampire Weekend songs
C
4 How many print magazine subscriptions do I have?
  1. 0
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
C
5 What is the guiding principle of my daily routine?
  1. Minimizing risk
  2. Maximizing efficiency
  3. Maximizing knowledge gain
  4. Minimizing driving
B
6 What do I most dislike seeing in movies and shows?
  1. Realistically painful-looking violence
  2. Gratuitous sex
  3. Excessive swearing
  4. Stereotypes
A
7 What is the most likely to irritate me while driving?
  1. Cell phone users
  2. Bicyclers
  3. Erratic drivers
  4. Hypermilers
D
8 What do I think is the worst sitcom device?
  1. Ross' pet monkey
  2. Jason Segel making up a song
  3. Laugh tracks
  4. Sitcoms parodizing older sitcoms
A
9 What do I think is the most important facet of music?
  1. Melody
  2. Rhythm
  3. Timbre / Color
  4. Harmony
B
10 How would I teach a board game to others?
  1. Walk through the rule sheet from top to bottom
  2. Summarize the rules and cover the details as the game goes
  3. Dive in and immediately start playing
  4. Let someone else do it
D

I got 10 out of 10. How'd you do?

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Memory Day: Twelve Years Ago Today

Twelve years ago, on February 25, 2003, I was a grad student finishing up my Masters at Florida State. After spending the day sparring with committee members for my upcoming thesis defense, I played in a basketball game with the Music Theory basketball team against a team called "Happy Hour". We lost, 62-22, and 3 of our 4 starters had accrued fouls by game's end. I also got in a shouting match with a frat boy who fouled me, which got me a foul.

I also spent the day helping a procrastinating Kathy finish up her presentation (to be presented 24 hours later), Where's the Beat? Metrical Ambiguities in the Introductions of New Wave Pop Songs of the 1980s, by applying PDF magicks to handouts and proofreading her prose.

boyllama (8:49:02 PM): how's it comin'?
ksb629 (8:49:15 PM): on conclusion
ksb629 (8:49:23 PM): need help
ksb629 (8:49:37 PM): Each of these examples demonstrates the possibility of multiple interpretations when establishing meter. In every case, the song began with an event that was neither a clear upbeat or downbeat. In such cases, I believe that it is reasonable to assume that the first event is a downbeat. This metrical interpretation seems correct until the established meter is disturbed or overpowered by another, stronger layer of sound. In most examples, it is possible to hear the "correct" interpretation of the metric placement retroactively, although even then it is frequently difficult to feel it correctly until the most dominant layer enters.
boyllama (8:55:40 PM): Each of these examples provides an open-ended scenario for a listener who is trying to establish meter. Every song began with an event that could be either an upbeat or a downbeat. In such ambiguous cases, it is reasonable to assume that the first event is a downbeat. This metrical interpretation feels correct by default, until the established pulse is disturbed or overpowered by a stronger layer of sound. It is sometimes possible to determine the true metric placement retroactively, although even then, it can be difficult to hear with confidence until the dominant layer enters.
ksb629 (9:17:05 PM): thanks
boyllama (9:17:14 PM): no problem
ksb629 (9:18:49 PM): fucking shit fuck
ksb629 (9:18:57 PM): I closed your window that had your suggested changes
ksb629 (9:19:00 PM): poop!

tagged as memories | permalink | 6 comments

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Dreamland, Season One:
Originally called Utopia, this is a fun, light-hearted comedy about government bureaucracy. It's nothing that hasn't been done before, but feels fresh because it takes place in Australia. It has some similarities to The Office, but focuses more on the ridiculousness of situations, rather than exploring the characters themselves (who are mainly ciphers for eliciting the ridiculousness). Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B+

Comedy Camisado by Hannibal Buress:
I really enjoy the comedy of Hannibal Buress, but this new comedy special was awful. There were too many pauses and less momentum than a rolling pyramid. About twenty minutes of downtime and reaction shots could have been trimmed and replaced with funnier jokes. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: D+

Parks and Recreation, Season Seven:
I enjoyed the finale of the sixth season, and felt like it would have made a perfect series closer. That said, this abbreviated season is a harmless way to laugh with your favorite characters one more time and has a nice, if forgettable, final episode. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B

Top Boy, Season One and Two:
This British series about drug trafficking in the council estates has vague echoes of The Wire, but lacks the same socioeconomic impact -- it merely uses ideas as a setting for a passable, occasionally exciting tale from the streets. Each season is four epsiodes long and the early episodes tend to drag a bit, but the final episodes of both seasons are well done and vindicate the slow burn. The music is uniformly awful and sounds like something Trent Reznor would write for the video game, Quake. Watch with subtitles unless you're up to speed on your bruvs, your food, and your innits. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B-

This post was not sponsored by Netflix -- it's just slightly easier to stumble upon things to watch on Netflix than Amazon Prime.

tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments

Monday, February 25, 2019

House Anniversary Day

I've been so heads down in work this month that the 15th anniversary of living in Sterling passed without fanfare. I'm pretty sure that I count as a local now.

To mark this occasion, here is an excerpt from my 2004 Home Inspection Report -- the house had been on the market for three months in an age when houses were flipping in a matter of days, so an inspection was key.

The inspector did not test the birdbath. Fifteen years later, it and 2 surrounding dead trees have been removed, maximizing the available space for front yard bowling and/or lawn darts.

The first half of the inspection was not particularly alarming:

The second half was a bit more worrisome, betraying the house's background of having an illegal multi-tenant sublet in the basement. (I design much better multi-tenant architectures).

Your electricity has been incorrectly wired, there's only 1 smoke alarm (broken), and there's no heat in the house, no big deal.

Luckily, the old owners bought a new heat pump that lasted another 4 years, and my dad is an electrical whiz!

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

Friday, February 25, 2022

Maia's Art Day

A fancy bunny going to a ball.

This bunny lives in a burrow with a chimney. He is lighting the campfire with his carrot.

Here's Maia's reinterpretation of one of Rebecca's paintings from one of many trips to Pinot's Palette.

This rainbow-y pencil extravaganza is inspired by a jigsaw puzzle we have featuring a range of coloured pencils in a row. Notice that her rainbows are always coloured in the right order.

tagged as offspring, media | permalink | 0 comments

 

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