This Day In History: 03/19

Tuesday, March 19, 2002

Someone else reached this site after searching for "dancing squirrels" yesterday. I'm not sure which is more peculiar -- the fact that people are searching for dancing squirrels on the Internet, or the fact that this site ranks highly for that search.

It turns out that the grant for the electroacoustical music studio was denied, so there will not be a studio at FSU in the near future. Dr. Wingate says that he has no plans at the moment other than to carry on through the semester, but I have a feeling that he may seek greener pastures after his time is up. I'd no doubt do the same in his situation, though it's disappointing to lose a professor that I really work well with in lessons and tasks.

The problem with having an FSU mail account, besides the needlessly cryptic username and domain, is the large number of school-sponsored spam-lists they sign you up for. I got a foward this afternoon reminding me about Asian Awareness Month. Last time I checked I was still Asian, so I've done my part.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2003

My old friend, Nikki, is coming into town a day early because she caught a standby flight, so I'm going to take the morning to clean up and make things a bit more homey. My apartment is pretty bare right now since I took most of my books and posters home at Christmas time.

On the side, I'm still tinkering away at the MFIT project, and I should have the Instructor Tool itself done by the end of the month. I still haven't heard from ACNS to see whether this project is possible on FSU servers, so I could end up doing a bunch of work for nothing.

Last night, Booty flew through the air Superman-style and crashed chest-first into an endtable. Her front feet went above it and her back feet went below it, and then she slid down the side, cartoon-style. She's fine though.

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Friday, March 19, 2004
Monday, March 19, 2007

Weekend Wrap-Up

Friday night was Movie Night, and the entirety of Sterling was in the local Blockbuster, stocking up on movies before the imminent 3 - 8 inches of snow. We had authentic Irish cuisine from a little pub known as McDonald's (son of Donald in Gaelic) and watched American Dreamz, a parody of both American Idol and George W. Bush which tells the tale of a suicide bomber who gets on the show in hopes of assassinating the President who will be a guest judge in the final round. The movie was entertaining enough, if only to see "The Impossible Dream" from Man of La Mancha choreographed to a bunch of 80s dance movies.

By Saturday morning, there had been less than an inch of snow accumulation so I went shopping in preparation for a St. Patrick's Day feast. My normal mashed potato supplier was not available, so I had to make due with a local ghetto variety which came in little milk cartons with hand-edited cooking instructions. It looked as if someone had applied white-out to the back of every single box.

Dinner consisted of six pounds of corned beef, four pounds of cabbage, seven cups of sour cream and ghetto mashed potatoes, a bottomless fount of Guinness, and sugar cookies. Post dinner talk centered around Kathy and Anna bemoaning the difficulty of the Name That Tune contest (which has a deadline of tomorrow at noon, so get your entries in!).

After dinner we played a rousing game of Balderdash, where it was discovered that a zopilot is a three-legged mammal that can both swim and fly (shown in its natural habitat below). Also, it is illegal for a cow to be in a hamburger in the state of California.

Sunday was "Recarpet the Stairs" Day, and efforts went quite smoothly and quickly. In the evening, Anna and I finished watching the fifth season of 24, which was definitely the best of the first five. Now she's allowed to have her baby, since it will no longer interrupt our TV-viewing schedule.

Today, I've taken off work to finish the carpeting job -- the living room gets its turn and will hopefully be as easy as the stairs were. I also seem to have caught a slight cold and an earache/blocked-ear sometime in the night, neither of which is conducive to enjoying the day. Don't you hate when one ear feels so pressurized that it might explode, but you can't equalize the pressure through the usual nose-plugging remedies?

In other news, I expect a visit from the Secret Service any minute now, since I managed to use multiple terrorist buzzwords in a single post!

Everyone does CPR wrong
Can Elton John's Music Turn You Gay?
Finally, something good about being old..

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Memory Day: Carmen Sandiego

Educational games in the 80s were a hit-or-miss affair. For every awesome game like Ancient Empires or Oregon Trail, there was a steamer like Logic Master or Gertrude's Boot. One game series that never got old, though, was Carmen Sandiego.

This Broderbund series had you tracking pun-named criminals through various geographical and historical areas while looking answers up in a provided reference book, like the World Almanac. There were five major games in the series before the age when I became omnipotent and did not need to learn anything new for the rest of my life: Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, Where in the USA is Carmen Sandiego?, Where in Europe is Carmen Sandiego?, Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego?, and Where in America's Past is Carmen Sandiego? I even remember the theme song for the series, which evolved from a 1-voice PC Speaker motive to a Soundblaster MIDI medley mixed with patriotic tunes from America's past (MP3).

The games definitely got easier as the years went by, either because the players got older or the reference books became simpler to master. In World, you might get an obtuse clue like "The thief was going to a neighbouring province of Tibet with more than one million citizens" which really worked the deductive reasoning skills (and using Alamanacs at the age of 6 is tricky unless you grew up in a house where the yearly more-disappointing-than-clothes Christmas gift WAS an almanac).

In Europe, the reference book was a Fodor's Travel Europe book so ill-suited to the task that the game turned us into expert guessers who never even bothered to look anything up. (The real-life application of this is that if I need something on my Europe trip, I'll check the Bank first. If nothing is there, or an animated bomb explodes, I'll proceed to the Hotel and then the Market).

By the time America's Past rolled around, no deductive reasoning was required at all, which made the games very easy to win. Instead of determining the gross national product of Burkina Faso, a clue might be "He said he was going to visit the Battle of Gettysburg". You could just look up the battle, set your time machine to Gettysburg 1863, and WIN.

Scambaiters turn the tables
Reducing beer in the name of science
Marriage on hold unlike helium leaks out

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Review Day

Learning the vi and Vim Editors:
vi is one of the basic text editors on the Linux operating system. I've used it for over a decade now, but learned it hodge-podge from quick tutorials and little tricks taught by other users, so I figured my productivity might improve if I actually sat down and learned it in an organized fashion. This book is clear, concise, and contains examples that are easy to play-along-at-home with. There are a few unnecessary chapters at the end, involving extensions to vi that I'll probably never use, but overall it's a decent reference text.

Final Grade: B+

Begin to Hope by Regina Spektor:
Regina Spektor came up during one of my recent Pandora listenings. My usual mode of operation is to buy the CD containing the song I like and then seeing if there's anything else good to stumble upon. In this case, I found that she teeters along the "wacky, indie" line a little too much to enjoy. There are a few tracks I like (#1, #4, #6 in the samples below), another that sounds like a skit from a crazy drama student's recital (#8), and others that sound too much like the soundtrack from Juno (#9, for example). The good thing is that the entire CD is highly musical -- it's not just a bad singer singing bad music. You can listen to online samples here.

Final Grade: B-

It's Not Me, It's You by Lily Allen:
Lily Allen's second CD is about as good as the first -- fun forgettable music in a variety of styles. She noticeably overuses major sevenths, and her songs with a social message (like "The UK has a substance abuse problem" opener) fall flat, but otherwise this is a harmless CD. You can listen to online samples here -- I enjoyed #2, #7 and #8.

Final Grade: B-

Psych?d?lices by Aliz?e:
I really enjoyed listening to this French pop star six years ago, but the honeymoon is definitely over. This isn't a particularly good CD, and one might even say that it wouldn't have been good in 2003 either. Her music hasn't changed or improved, so it feels like a recap of her old CDs, with less interesting arrangements and too much background rapping (French rappers are unintentionally amusing though). Despite this musical atrocity, Aliz?e is still welcome to costar in my movie with Rachel McAdams.

Final Grade: D

Fat family wants more benefits
Robot to hit catwalk
China's last eunuch spills secrets

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday Fragments

quivering with anticipation like Jello

♠ Things I did instead of writing a Fragments column:

  • Worked on my super secret project yesterday afternoon.
  • Had the enchilada sampler at Tortilla Factory for dinner last night.
  • Watched an episode of Fringe, which we're tepidly trying to get into again.
  • Got a full eight hours of sleep.
  • Went down to Bailey's Crossroad for emergency work support this morning.
Black people must leave, NJ Walmart announcer says
Medieval child's brain to unlock human thought processes
Scientists hide gold with 3D invisibility cloak

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Monday, March 19, 2012

Weekend Wrap-up

After this photo, I had a horrible case of hat-hair.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Newsday Tuesday

Metro Silver Line likely to get a $5 million haircut

Metro's new Silver Line could suffer nearly $5 million in cuts in federal funding. The money comes from the Federal Transit Administration's roughly $2 billion program called New Starts, which could take at least a 5 percent across-the-board haircut because of the federal sequestration.

Chris Paolino, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), said the agency "hasn't heard anything so we don't know what's going to happen" in terms of its fiscal 2013 funding from New Starts.

When asked why the Washington Post had written what is essentially a non-story with no tangible information, reporters noted that stories about the Metro always bring an increase of traffic to the Post website, as conspiracy theorists from both ends of the political spectrum blame the other side for overbudgeting. Said one reporter, "We earned about twelve cents in advertising from those commenters. Coupled with the firing of our ombusdman, this means that your print subscriptions will only go up by ten dollars this year. We can also hire more reporters who think it is clever to compare budget cuts and haircuts."

Already, the first phase of the Silver Line is overbudget. It has $77 million left in a $162 million contingency fund, according to Pat Nowakowsi, the lead overseer for MWAA on the project. The cuts come after the Federal Transit Administration said it has tried to streamline the funding process for the New Starts program, which funds heavy rail and light rail projects, along with plans to add bus rapid transit lanes across the country.

The New Starts program has also faced criticism from balloon enthusiasts who feel that their "lighter-than-air" rail ideas are getting ignored, and pragmatists who don't believe that "bus" and "rapid" can ever truthfully belong in the same phrase.

FTA's administrator Peter Rogoff told attendees last week at a transportation conference that the cuts will mean "higher borrowing costs that will make these things more expensive for the taxpayer." New funding agreements, he said, "that could be on the horizon could be in danger."

The FTA is currently in talks with Christopher Nolan on a sequel to Inception where things that might exist in the future might not exist in the future. Mr. Rogoff also stated that hurricanes that could happen next year could also not happen, although the National Weather Service, facing sequestration woes of its own, could not confirm or could deny this assertion.

Independent analysis by the URI! Zone has identified several potential areas where $5 million might be saved at this stage in the project:

  • Eliminate tracks between the Reston Parkway station and the Wiehle Avenue station: If going above ground in Tyson's Corner is cheaper than digging a tunnel, then by (mass) transitivity, building no tracks at all would be cheaper than going above ground. Instead, riders could take a mythical "rapid bus" between locations.

  • Replace the station managers in kiosks with confiscated HOV mannequins dressed in uniform: The level of service would be identical.

  • Eliminate Blue Line stops at Arlington Cemetery: A scientific study of people who get off at this stop showed that 100% of them experience instant regret after mistakenly thinking that they had reached the Pentagon.

  • Rebrand the line as the Grey Line: Two fewer letters and one fewer syllable results in cost savings on printed maps and station announcements. Besides, grey is the silver of the poor.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Time-lapsed Blogography Day

Eleven years ago today, on March 19, 2003, I was in my last year of grad school, having just passed my thesis defense on 03/03/03 (at 3:30 PM), and had owned Booty for 11 days. My undergrad friend, Nikki, was staying at my apartment for a couple days while she auditioned for the vocal studio at FSU. My Florida friends kept asking her for stories of times when I was wild and crazy but she couldn't think of any.

While Nikki practiced for her audition, I was busy putting together my lesson plan for my Sightsinging class comparing the subtonics in Nate Dogg's refrain to Eminem's Till I Collapse with the leading tones in Mozart's 40th Symphony. The lesson was going to be observed by Professor Clendenning, so I easily devoted twice the normal amount of time to preparing it.

Meanwhile, President Bush had just declared war on Iraq, and Kathy was pissed because it was preempting The Bachelorette.

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Modern Family, Season Two:
The second season continues to amuse without a drop in quality. The character of Cam gets a little tiresome by the end, but not enough so that it hurts our enthusiasm for watching.

Final Grade: B+

Trouble in Paradise by La Roux:
This collection of songs is completely unmemorable, not unlike my single viewing ever of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It's a pleasant palette of pop electronica, but takes no chances and has nothing as catchy as Tigerlily or Bulletproof.

Final Grade: C-

The IT Crowd, Season One:
This British comedy about the IT department in a big company is a pleasant treadmill-worthy show. It improves in the second season, although it tends to rely a bit too much on absurdist or fantasy humor. Rebecca was done with it after the IT geeks discovered a goth living in the basement of the building. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B

Displacement by Lucy Knisley:
Rebecca recommended this graphic novel about a young twenty-something taking her aging grandparents (one with dementa) on a cruise. It's about as heavy as it sounds, though the tone is buoyed by the cute cartoons and a short running length.

Final Grade: B-

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Monday, March 19, 2018

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison:
This is a political fantasy story about a half-breed distant relative of the king who suddenly inherits the throne and must navigate court intrigue and political backstabbing. The book is a good-natured read but it seems to just progress until the end, without much in the way of direct conflict. All of the major plot changes happen just offscreen which, in its own way, mirrors the experience of a powerful ruler who experiences everything secondhand but doesn't make for a satisfying conclusion. The incredibly long names and titles and characters to keep track of also slow down the story.

Final Grade: C+

Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb:
The first book in the Farseer trilogy is well-written, with a steady build and rewarding broadening of the world as the story progresses. There isn't a ton of action, but plenty of engaging character development. I don't always like books told in the first-person perspective, but this one kept me reading to the end.

Final Grade: B

Carnivale Electricos by Galactic:
This album is by a New Orleans jam band and crams together all sorts of New Orleans styles and electronica together to form a bombastic sound. Karate is one of the catchiest songs on the album.

Final Grade: B

About a Boy, Season Two:
The second and final season of this show continues to be an easy, light-hearted comedy worth watching at the end of a long day. The plot progresses nowhere fast and the jokes are about as far from mean-spirited as you can find. In the face of cancellation, the final episode provides an ambiguous, yet satisfying, ending. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B

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Friday, March 19, 2021

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Prison Break, Season Five:
I had no expectations going into this "reboot" season, since the original four seasons ended in a way that needed no continuation. It's just "okay", full of uncharismatic side characters and an unnecessary new setting (Yemen). There was less ingenuity in the flow this time -- instead of watching complicated prison break plans come to life, it felt more like the characters were just running away from danger the whole time. The ending was a good wrap-up and fan service. If you were a Prison Break fan a decade ago, this is a fun jaunt that you can leave on in the background while you exercise.

Final Grade: C+

Moulin Rouge: The Musical:
I somehow missed that this movie from my grad school years ended up as a Broadway musical in 2018. I enjoyed the soundtrack on my first listen, with some of the medleys rewritten to incorporate new popular music. It's loud and flashy and exceedingly shallow -- once the cleverness of the mash-ups fades, the performances feel rote and weak. Fun background music, but not a musical I'd necessarily want to see.

Final Grade: C

Lupin, Part One:
This French show about a criminal that bases his plans around a pulp fiction series was great. What starts out as a basic heist setup turns into a deeper character study and revenge plot with plenty of humourous moments. Although Part One only has 8 episodes (ending in a cliffhanger), we're already looking forward to the next part coming this summer. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: A

Vice Principals, Season Two:
The second and final season of this dark comedy takes everything that was pretty good from the first season and improves upon it. The tone is perfected and the actors feel right at home as their characters get deconstructed and face the consequences of last season. We missed the departure of one of the main cast, but it wouldn't have made sense to keep this character around after last season's finale.

Final Grade: B+

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