This Day In History: 03/02

Saturday, March 02, 2002

I finally got around to watching the Final Fantasy movie this morning and it was definitely impressive. The story is a generic sci-fi plot that develops through the addition of plot-holes, and the music, though played by the London Symphony Orchestra, is fairly uninspired, but the visuals alone are worth the price of admission. Final Fantasy is the first movie to attempt computer-rendered humans, and the results are very lifelike and fluid.

One of the biggest problems with computer renderings is the suspension of disbelief from problems such as weight and the accurate representation of physics and particle effects. The movie does such a good job at its presentation that I often forgot I was watching a computer-animated movie. Several scenes were lifelike enough to have come from any big budget live action movie. If you have any interest at all in computer graphics or visual technology in general, you shouldn't miss this one.

I've never been a big fan of the Final Fantasy series of video games, although they've developed a massive following since their early days on the NES. I've always found the plots hackneyed with too much lost in the poor Japanese translation. Characters only ever emote their feelings with "Uhhh" and "Argh", and there's always a token black guy with a big gun yelling "Yo!".

"Acting is merely the art of keeping a large group of people from coughing." - Ralph Richardson

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Sunday, March 02, 2003

For this week's milestone on the Music Fundamentals Instructor's Tool project, I created a small applet that allows you to match barnyard animals together to save them from a landslide. It's completely irrelevant to the project, but it's fun to play. Go to the Coding page and click "Barnyard" to play. This one took me about twelve hours to code.

My thesis defense is scheduled for 3:30 PM tomorrow afternoon, in Longmire 213B. I'm not sure of the protocol on defenses, but I think they're open to the public. You should be allowed to peek in to appease your curiousity, although I think open cheering is risqué.

Happy Birthday Mike Sharp!

Indiana music students are a bunch of terrorists

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Tuesday, March 02, 2004

This was the only entry in my "Design My Living Room" contest, submitted by Mike Catania:

It obviously loses because the snake pit is far too close to the venus flytrap for there not to be a daily rumble.

My house is slowly coming to order -- I've spent the weekends and a few hours each weekday cleaning, fixing, and helping with things like water heater installation. It looks like I'll be moved out of the apartment and into the house by the end of March, so I'll be moving up to Sterling at the same time as my office moves to Reston.

Yesterday's notable search terms:

    dustin oscar sword genitalia, halp halp mnr mnr hrt hrt, quotes about pepole who surprise us, chris fraker tuba

I'm in the 90th percentile
Why doesn't anyone ever notice a baby-snatcher's new baby?
Police caught issuing tickets as a contest
Pet snitching offer countered by cat food company

tagged as contests | permalink | 2 comments

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Here are pictures of the new kittens in the manor. Kitty and Booty are disgruntled at the new arrivals, but more snooty than aggressive. I'm a little behind on pictures, but I hope to rectify that next week when I do tons of updates to the site. In the meantime, I've uploaded a couple movies of the new kittens:

"Cali" (1 MB WMV)
"Tiggy" (1 MB WMV)
Special DVD Commentary from Booty (726KB WMV)

Bush's Obscene Fines
Road kill candy angers animal rights activists
Super Mario in Post-it notes
Adware maker joins federal privacy board

tagged as cats | permalink | 2 comments

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Oscars Week, Part IV of IV

Thank God Oscar week is finally over. This year's batch of movies were too tame and not very fun to make fun of. At least I've now done it for a full five years, so I can sell off the entire series into syndication. You'll no doubt be seeing reruns of BU's Oscar Picks, weeknights on TBS Superstation at 7 and 11.

Directing
    The Nominees:
    Brokeback Mountain
    Capote
  • Crash
    Good Night, and Good Luck.
    Munich


  • What will happen?
    This list is identical to the Best Motion Picture category and in all likelihood, whichever movie wins one will win the other. However, I'll put my meaningful vote on Crash, simply because it must have been a pain in the ass for a director to have to work with so much star power on a daily basis. I bet the only thing worse than corralling celebrities in Crash was doing it in Ocean's Twelve.
Actor in a Supporting Role
    The Nominees:
    George Clooney - Syriana
  • Matt Dillon - Crash
    Paul Giamatti - Cinderella Man
    Jake Gyllenhaal - Brokeback Mountain
    William Hurt - A History of Violence


  • What will happen?
    Matt Dillon is too funny-looking to seriously be considered for an Oscar, and he wasn't the greatest of the actors in Crash (although he should probably get an honorable mention for cleverness for managing to star in Wild Things with both Denise Richards and Neve Campbell). Of the remaining stars, I'll narrow it down to Jake Gyllenhaal and George Clooney. To determine which would triumph, I secretly labelled the two cat beds as the Clooney Bed and the Jake Bed (since I was having trouble spelling Gyllenhaal), then I let the cats go to sleep. As you can see, there were 1.5 votes for George Clooney and only the ass-half of a vote for Jake.
Actress in a Supporting Role
    The Nominees:
    Amy Adams - Junebug
    Catherine Keener - Capote
    Frances McDormand - North Country
    Rachel Weisz - The Constant Gardener
    Michelle Williams - Brokeback Mountain


    What will happen?
    Rachel Weisz and Frances McDormand are both slightly funny-looking. The world may be ready for gay cowboys, but they aren't ready for award-winning funny-looking people (which is why I haven't won any awards since high school). Of the remainders, I'll go with Catherine Keener because she was good in Being John Malkovich.
Actor in a Leading Role
    The Nominees:
    Philip Seymour Hoffman - Capote
    Terrence Howard - Hustle & Flow
    Heath Ledger - Brokeback Mountain
  • Joaquin Phoenix - Walk the Line
    David Strathairn - Good Night, and Good Luck.


  • What will happen?
    Jokin Phoenix wins this category hands down. I never really liked him after Gladiator, and then I finally realized that the reason I didn't like him was because he did such a good job being unlikable. In Walk the Line he completely became Johnny Cash, and also taught me the song, Ring of Fire. I wonder how they decided that Jake was supporting and Heath was the lead actor in Brokeback Mountain. I guess they just flipped a coin, or wrestled for it.
Actress in a Leading Role
    The Nominees:
    Judi Dench - Mrs. Henderson Presents
    Felicity Huffman - Transamerica
    Keira Knightley - Pride & Prejudice
    Charlize Theron - North Country
  • Reese Witherspoon - Walk the Line


  • What will happen?
    Judi Dench falls into the "funny-looking" category (as well as the "slightly scary" category, so she's an auto-lose. Of the remainders, I'd like Reese to win, but it will end up being Charlize Theron for tradition's sake. Keira has a few more years of prettiness before she finally dirties up enough to win an Oscar -- but she'll have to think of another role besides a homicidal prostitute.
Best Motion Picture
    The Nominees:
    Brokeback Mountain
    Capote
  • Crash
    Good Night, and Good Luck.
    Munich


  • What will happen?
    I am just one man, and a rather small one at that, so rather than continue to fight the tide of favour, I'll vote for Brokeback Mountain to win this category. The only problem with this is that we'll have to endure weeks of insipid news coverage earmarking it as a landmark event in gay rights, or something equally silly. No one said anything about gay hobbits when Lord of the Rings won the first time -- why does this movie winning automatically equate to a deeper meaning than "Hey, this was a good movie"?

Happy Birthday Mike Sharp, a.k.a. Junesy!

You can't force cats to do anything...
Another pants-less driver charged
Next come the laser beams

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Friday Fragments

disjointed, anticlimactic, and hard to understand, much like the average jazz trumpet solo

♣ Last month went by incredibly quickly -- I don't know why but it really felt like the month was two or three days shorter than normal. Despite this, I was able to remain my usual productive-BU self, as personified by Mike Catania in this guest post from 2004.

♣ Among my accomplishments for the month of February, I wrote two new songs, hosted two poker games, took off five days from work, painted and carpeted one room and a hallway, refloored one foyer, met three new people, went on two dates, beat two video games, finished one project at work, read four books and half a book of short stories, took care of four cats, washed the car once, shoveled the driveway twice, installed one gate in Anna's house to protect her progeny from being eaten by a cat, and saw four movies. Then in week two...

♣ This month's plans mostly involve renovating the living room and kitchen of my house, which means that they'll be in various stages of disarray throughout the month. Currently (thanks to the great help of a retired dad who might as well have a spackle tree growing in his backyard) the walls are shored up, smoothed out, and ready for sanding and a smattering of NOUGAT-coloured paint. By the end of the month, the entire top floor will have new carpet, and the kitchen will have fake hardwood floors (see artist's rendering of what my dining area will look like when it's all done).

♣ Besides the home improvements, I'd also like to start writing my will before my inevitable assassination by NASA for implying that we may have faked the moon landing, and take some online courses through the program at work.

♣ Our company is now using some program called Skillsoft, which is a collection of thousands of online courses to be taken at the leisure of the employee. Performance managers are always getting their panties in a knot over whether employees are forward-motioning their careers or gaining psychic growth, but the training budgets are never actually big enough to send everyone to the highly educational Java seminar in Hawaii.

♣ Personally, I'm a big fan of online courses, because it allows me to work at whatever pace I feel comfortable, without worrying about attendance grades or falling asleep in class. If you were to tally up all the non-A's I'd ever earned in my college career, I bet that 80% would be attendance-related. I got a C- in a speech class at Northern Virginia Community College because I did all the work but skipped three classes, and a B- in some combinatorics math class with no real-world applications that consisted of endless quizzes about how many different ways you could stuff pigeons into pigeonholes.

♣ Had those classes taught me how to stuff pigeons instead, I surely would have attended on a much more frequent basis. Pigeon stuffing is a crucial life skill. Bonus points to anyone who knows where this poem came from without looking it up:

    On registration day at taxidermy school
    I distinctly saw the eyes of the stuffed moose
    Move.

♣ Speaking of poems, there are only two days until the deadline for the "Write My Lyrics" contest, and I've only received two entries! Surely you don't want to miss out on the quintissential American Idol of song lyrics and the fame that goes with it. Submit your lyrics by Sunday! I will probably post the entries for voting on Monday.

♣ Also on Monday, Kathy and Chris return State-side from their jaunt through England which means I'll relinquish custody of the gay kitty brothers, who have been constantly harassing Amber and Booty since last Monday.

♣ Today is Mike Sharp's birthday, and tomorrow is Dave 'Jackpot' Miller's birthday. Happy Birthday! Have a great weekend, everyone!

Why buy a satellite when you have a wok?
Slot machines flash subliminal messages
Poltergeist with Pets

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Monday, March 02, 2009

Stuff in My Drawers Day

A couple years ago, I wrote about all the crazy parties I hosted as a kid. Because of my proclivity towards earning overtime pay instead of writing web updates, I did not have time to write anything fresh for today. Instead, I dug into my stockpile of quickie ideas and unearthed the original "knocking instructions" that met partygoers at the door of any given party.

This particular set of instructions came from when I turned 15, which would have put it in September 1994, right before the start of my Junior Year. The usual suspects were invited, and I probably had a crush on Jenny Holland at the time (as did most of the junior class).


Indonesia's psychedelic fish named a new species
Nicaragua's Vampire Problem
Octopus floods the aquarium

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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

HI2U

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Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Memory Day: Snapshots

My dad recently converted several tattered troves of negatives into scanned images, instantly adding hundreds of never-before-seen shots as potential Memory Day fodder. Here is the first, taking in December 1992.

  • We're playing Super Tennis on the Super NES, a game that I won consistently after learning a single unbeatable serve and repeating it over and over (This will also let you win in NFL Blitz 2000 with a Hail Mary).
  • On the table we're sitting upon is the one real plant in the entire house, an African violet, a big bowl of guppies, and one of those geode rocks with crystals formed inside of it.
  • On the floor near the TV is the Super Mario Strategy Guide that came as a bonus with my subscription to Nintendo Power, an expensive advertising brochure disguised as a magazine.
  • The electronic keyoard has passed through many hands, and currently resides in the home of Anna's parents.
  • You can just make out an exercise bike in the next room. It got about as much use as the recumbent bike in my living room does today. I used to pedal as fast as I could before jumping onto a single pedal -- since I weighed about 4 pounds, the bike would easily move me up and down.
  • Sheen vs. Gaddafi
    Pizza owner used mice against the competition
    Camera prettifies subject, even adds makeup

    tagged as memories | permalink | 1 comment

    Friday, March 02, 2012

    Random Chart Day

    How I Clean My Glasses

    New speech-jamming gun hints at dystopian future
    New winged roller coaster "the Swarm" rips the arms off crash test dummies

    tagged as data | permalink | 0 comments

    Monday, March 02, 2015

    Weekend Wrap-up

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

    Wednesday, March 02, 2016

    Sparkour Day

    My latest side project is Sparkour, an open-source collection of programming recipes for Apache Spark. Designed as an efficient way to navigate the intricacies of the Spark ecosystem, Sparkour aims to be an approachable, understandable, and actionable cookbook for distributed data processing.

    Spark is the latest buzzword around BIG DATA, providing a way for developers to analyze and transform vast quantities of data very quickly. If you aren't in the programming world, Apache Spark probably means nothing to you. As a translation, I devoted 80 hours of my own time and $60 worth of books and hostnames over the past two weeks to learning about something new, writing about it, and publishing it to be torn apart (or possibly built up further) by the anonymous masses on the Internet. I earned exactly $0 and a heaping serving of intrinsic satisfaction.

    My motivations for creating a knowledge resource instead of a library this time around were myriad:

    • I enjoy teaching, and presenting material you have learned yourself is a great way to retain it.
    • There will always be someone else out there willing to write a super-useful add-on to Spark but there aren't as many people who can write a coherent paragraph that explains the what, how, and why of the original.
    • Laymen inherently understand what a cookbook of programming recipes is. Conversely, most people to this day don't really get what niche DDMSence fills. Sometimes I don't, myself.

    If you use Spark at work, I hope this new project is useful! If you're already bored, I hope you like my logo!

    tagged as programming | permalink | 0 comments

    Friday, March 02, 2018

    Review Day

    There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

    Dirty Heads by Dirty Heads:
    A pleasant, laid-back collection of summer-esque songs, like the catchy That's All I Need.

    Final Grade: B

    Blade Runner 2049 (R):
    This is a decent movie irrevocably hamstrung by its extended run time. It has worthwhile character development but takes a long time to build any momentum, often wasting it in long, lingering shots or slow pans. Had an editor trimmed out a good half hour of wasted time, it'd be a fun little outing that benefits from (but doesn't require) familiarity with the original.

    Final Grade: C+

    Snipperclips:
    This is a multiplayer Switch game where you have to cut pieces out of your partner to solve various puzzles. It's quirky and fun, and there isn't usually a single right way that the puzzles must be done. Cut yourself into a hook to corral a firefly towards the target, or just brute force it across the screen with perseverance and tendonitis -- either way works. I also enjoyed that there is a "just close enough" meter to accept solutions that are almost there but suffer from slightly bad cuts. This has a very fun "Incredible Machine" vibe to it. The only downside is that it's not really fun as a single player game.

    Final Grade: B+

    Big Little Lies, Season One:
    This starts off as yet another show about snipey women living in suburbia, but almost immediately finds its own unique voice. It captured our interest immediately and the 7 episode length is perfect for the story it told. I liked that it ended with full closure on the initial murder mystery, even though there are now reports of a Season Two in the making.

    Final Grade: A

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 5 comments

    Monday, March 02, 2020

    Weekend Wrap-up

    Porch work continued on Friday, with all of the railings and screens fully installed. There's probably 1-2 more days of work left before we can have raucous porch parties. On Friday night, we had broiled salmon with a new marinade and watched the movie, Lady Bird, after Maia went to bed.

    Saturday was too cold to count as the weekend, so hopefully we get a refund sometime soon. We had a delicious lunch with the Chous at Ariake in Reston. Maia liked tempura, but was more fixated on some new Splat the Cat books she'd never seen before.

    In the evening, Rebecca and Maia made play-dough for the first time. Our dinner consisted of diverse leftovers from several recent outings.

    I passed the Microsoft Azure Fundamentals exam on Sunday. After 7 AWS cloud certifications, it felt like I was giving Microsoft a participation trophy by deigning to consider their cloud offerings. In the evening, Tammy came over for a dinner of London Broil, carrots, and mashed potatoes, which unintentionally approximated a St. Patricks Day meal.

    How was your weekend?

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

    Wednesday, March 02, 2022

    Ian Week #44 Battle Report

    Ian is now in the age range where the photo letter blocks don't quite work because no one expects any parent to actually follow through and take a picture every single week.

    In the above picture, his pajamas are only half on because he tends to crawl away or roll over completely before we have a chance to finish putting them on. He hates being on the changing table and refuses to cooperate in any basic baby logistics.

    Ian crawls just fine now and likes making laps around each room (whose door we haven't shut) to see what's new. When he's completely bored of the main floor, we do the same routine in the basement. He decided to tackle stairs the other day and got up 3 before falling backwards into my arms. Later that same day, he made it all the way up 8 stairs. This tired him out too much for the remaining set, so he just stayed in our split level foyer finding all of the dirty crevices that I really need to clean.

    He wakes on average around 6:40 and is usually in bed by 8:00 PM. His naps are pretty good -- when he's at home in the morning, he'll gladly do an hour and a half without complaint. The afternoon nap, recently, tends to be more of a 45 minute "sit in the crib and pull on the curtains" followed by lots of crying to get out.

    He can eat a meal of mostly finger foods now, mainly carrots, peas, and pasta supplemented with various meat pastes and squeezy pouches.

    • Things he likes: Amber, anything with wheels, puzzle pieces, puffs
    • Things he doesn't like: loud noises and bass vibrations, closed doors, baby gates in front of puzzles, getting a new diaper

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

     

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