This Day In History: 04/04

Thursday, April 04, 2002

Steve Reich: WORKS 1965 - 1995, Part IV of V

The next two discs of the Reich set include New York Counterpoint, Sextet, The Four Sections, Different Trains, Electric Counterpoint, and Three Movements. As a large orchestral work, I found Three Movements interesting, just to see how Reich handles such large forces. I found New York Counterpoint to be pleasant enough, with the final movement being an interesting application of jazz idioms. All of the other works besides Different Trains were interesting but didn't evoke any strong feelings.

Different Trains was probably my favourite work in the entire set. The piece is scored for string quartet surrounded by a variety of electroacoustical effects, and the movements highlights the American trains before and after World War II, and German trains during the war. Reich brings back some of his speech materials from earlier works, but instead of developing them through phasing, he treats spoken word as a melodic line. First, a motive or melody will be heard in the strings, and then repeated at the same "pitch-level" as spoken word. This interplay of contours makes up much of the piece. The contrast of the movements and this toying with speech makes for a very attractive piece. I believe this one won a Grammy in 1989.

To be concluded...

This week's Movie Night selection was Training Day, a recent cop thriller with Denzel and Ethan. The actors work well off of each other, and it's worth watching just to see Denzel play a villain. This is the movie he won an Oscar for last month.

I've finally finished work on the Ewazen MIDI accompaniments, which took a little longer than expected. Someday, I still want to re-cover the Hindemith and Kennan sonatas, but those will probably stay on the back burner for a long time to come. My next sidetracking task this month will be to remix and update all the MIDIs and scores I have stored on this web site and in my archives. Some of my Finale files haven't been opened since it was called Finale 2.0, and it'd be nice to have clean copies of everything, as well as MIDIs that sound halfway decent.

tagged as music, reviews | permalink | 0 comments

Friday, April 04, 2003

I've been taking Booty on four mile jaunts in the car every day now. She still cries some, but it seems to be more annoyance than any fright. The trip home should be a blast -- luckily I'm doing it in two segments this time, rather than one straight shot.

This weekend I'm going to try and finish the Tool portion of my MFIT project. I have most of it done in my head -- the tedious part is just getting it onto the computer and testing it out.

Jason Mewes comes out of hiding
Living organisms fit better into ZIP files
Package of Bones Sent To Florida Congresswoman
Six-year-old terrorist

permalink | 0 comments

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Today is movie day!

Licky (1.1MB WMV)
Final Apartment Chase (3.6MB WMV)
Poker Night (2.8MB WMV)

Yesterday's notable search terms:

    how to make a minor scale, christy kull, concentrating while listening to music

Judge calls himself an idiot
Immediate Threat
It's not all relative in WV
How to avoid closing costs

permalink | 0 comments

Monday, April 04, 2005

I spent all of last week sprawled on the couch in the final throes of various diseases (see Figure A for a reenactment of how I sprawled). Since I could barely sit at my computer without falling over, I missed all of last week's planned updates, which were to include: an interview with Astrid Spielman, lead singer of the punk band, The Particles, build-it-yourself instructions for a glow-in-the-dark pinata, and a new composition with the title, Where is Alex?.

To make up for this lack of updates, I've added some new cat pictures to the Photos page, and will describe my week for your reading pleasure.

I was feeling fine last Saturday and made a roast leg of lamb for my parents, who stopped by in the evening for dinner. The lamb turned out just fine, but the recipe apparently called for me to snag the roasting pan on the oven door so the lamb could somersault through the air in an exploding miasma of tomato sauce.

On Sunday morning, I went to work for a few hours to clean up a few outstanding tasks. I felt bad almost immediately and was home by 8 o' clock with a headache and a fever. I spent the next three days with a fever in the hundreds and one of those body-convulsing coughs that reverberates through your body like the bass in Dancing Queen but doesn't seem to have any effect.

After three days of that garbage, I oozed down to the doctor on Thursday. He said I had a Bacterial Chest Infection (which is incidentally going to be the name of my first heavy metal CD, due out next year) and prescribed some antibiotics to mix with my Tussin. Evidently I never fully got over my cold from two weeks ago, and after helping Anna move a bunch of boxes out from underneath the stairs last weekend, my lungs were coated in cobwebs of sick like holiday tinsel.

Life was a lot more manageable on antibiotics. On Friday, I watched Shaun of the Dead which was funny and worth a viewing, and Closer, which was not. On Saturday, I watched Wicker Park which was also quite good, and reread the complete Chronicles of Prydain.

It's now Monday and my lungs are feeling much better, but I'm very weak and have to rest a lot. I lost five pounds since everything I ate tasted like Tussin. I'm going back to work tomorrow, so hopefully things will go back to normal.

Also, Sydney is now fighting crime as the Caped Avenger:

(695KB WMV)

Optimus Prime dies of prostate cancer
Ms. Wheelchair stripped of title for standing up
Four male models who appeared in an ad campaign against domestic violence are suing New York City, saying the posters stayed up beyond the agreed time, leading people to think they really were wife beaters.

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 2 comments

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Following a home stretch of working all weekend long and taking a half-day at work on Monday, I have my Sun Java Developer's Certification project finished and ready for submission. The skills required to write the program are nothing that any decent developer wouldn't know already or be able to pick up quickly -- the hardest part of writing for me was going back through it at the end to make sure that every single line obeys the Java Code Standards on formatting, which dictate such minutiae as how many spaces are in 1 hit of the tab key (4) and how to place the curly braces between if statements. Besides that, doing all the work was reasonably interesting in a sick-work kind of way, although it did make me feel like I was back in college again.

I have to make sure that I submit it quickly enough to get it over with before I start second-guessing all the design decisions I made when writing it (but not so quickly that I make a careless mistake). What makes this particular certification so daunting is that it's expensive and anonymously graded. Here's how things work:

  • You pay your $250 and get a 6 page list of requirements outlining a project which touches on all major Java coding areas, like GUIs, databases, threads, and network.
  • You read the spec once a week for three months so it looks like you're working on it.
  • You finally hunker down and finish it off in early April (one month earlier than planned, I might add), and then package it all up to submit online.
  • You pay another $150 to go to a Prometric Exam Center where you answer four essay questions which essentially ask "How can we be sure you wrote this yourself unless we ask you about how you designed it?"
  • Six weeks later, your code is run through an automatic analyzer which checks to make sure you have covered every requirement that included the word MUST. If you miss any, your assignment is immediately failed without any explanation.
  • If you make it this far, you start with 400 points, and your project is pored over by some poor human grader with a checklist. Everytime he finds something he takes issue with, he subtracts some points. If you drop below 320 points, you automatically fail.
  • After grading, you get back your score sheet with just the numeric score -- no comments, no criticisms, no text whatsoever.
  • If you fail, you are allowed to fork over ANOTHER $125 and resubmit a corrected assignment two weeks later (as long as you can figure out why your other one failed, of course).

So the problem here is the opacity of the grading process. As soon as I submit the project, it's out of my hands and I have to hope the anonymous grader doesn't have a bad hair day. This certification is all about being able to make solid design decisions so there's no one right answer. If the grader dislikes some of my designs and subtracts some points, it wouldn't be the end of the world. But if I lose a point here for having more than 1 whitespace, and another point there for using a capital letter, eventually they can add up. I could fail and have no guidance on where things went wrong to make the second submission any better.

All this heartburn for a worthless piece of paper and a line on my resumé that I'll never reference again. Someday, I will become a high paid consultant and create my own brand of certification on something, then make all my money by failing people and forcing them to resubmit for half the price. This could be the biggest money-making scam ever created, although I'm obviously not the first person to want to exploit it (see also, CMMI, and graduate school).

Spider has fiery revenge on nudist
Robotic moose has revenge on hunter
Scam passing oven doors off as flat-screen TVs

permalink | 6 comments

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

List Day: Six Things Never Used

Having lived my entire life as a comfortably middle-class individual, my home is filled with useless artifacts that have never actually been employed in real-world applications. Here is a small sample of the obscene wastefulness all middle-class Americans exhibit!

1) Super Metroid / Donkey Kong Country: These are Super Nintendo games that I got in 2004 and never actually played. The first I picked up for $5 online, because it's supposed to be a classic and everyone loves classics. I bet I would love it too, but the Super Nintendo is hooked up in a whole 'nother room, and hanging out in said room is too much of a paradigm shift for me. The second game belonged to Ben, and was secretly given to me by Anna during one of their moves because, "he doesn't even have a Super Nintendo and it's just going to clutter up my pretty house".

2) The Basement Guest Room: Though my basement room has shown hospitality towards a large and peculiar array of guests, both nightly and semi-permanent (like Eric Barberan, Kathy (nez) Biddick, the Ahlbins, and Tommy Lee Jones), I, myself, have never actually spent the night in it. Maybe this summer I will move down there for a few days to see what all the fuss is about -- one guest described the room as "a little bit of heaven on Earth", but he may have been drunk at the time.

3) Drill Bit Collection: I received a massive set of drill bits from my dad at Christmas 2005, and I put this set next to the two sets of drill bits I already had, intending to use them as soon as the old ones were all worn and used up. Unfortunately in my line of work, there aren't a lot of opportunities for "hardcore nonstop drilling action", so I am nowhere near using up the old drill bits. At the current rate of consumption, these bits will be used for the first time in the year 2015.

4) Marjorum: It's an unwritten rule that you have to have a spice rack when you buy a house, so I bought a spice rack. Since that time, I think I've used the Rosemary and the Celery Salt. I don't think I am fancy enough to use the marjorum without feeling like a poser, since I have no idea what one might use it as (maybe a butter substitute?).

5) Green Pants: In the summer of 2002, I went shopping for nice dressy "teaching" clothes for my sightsinging gig at Florida State. I picked out a pair of khakis and a pair of black pants to accentuate my existing wardrobe of four pairs of shorts, a Members Only jacket, a crew hat, and a muscle shirt with "WHO LET THE DOGS OUT" across the abs. Anna added these pants to my ensemble, because she said I needed to branch out, and I never did wear them. I tried a couple times, but being color-retarded, I could never figure out which shirts went with the pants. Now I am fat and no longer fit in them, but they still hang in my closet.

6) Music Books: This is one of three full shelves of "IMPRESSIVE MUSIC BOOKS" I have to make myself look worldly and IMPRESSIVE. I have never opened eleven of the books shown here, generally the ones on compositional techniques and harmony. Maybe that's why I have a triad fetish!

Runner-Up) Jumanji: The Board Game: In 2001, my dad sent me a batch of randomly selected board games as collateral for the classic board games he had sold at a yard sale while I was away at college. Anna and I played Jumanji just one time, and then never played it again. It was so bad that I think we actually made up our own rules about halfway through the first game. For a board game based upon a movie about a board game where rhinos tear down your house when you play it, this game was largely underwhelming.

Video games zapped
A Slashed Safety Net Turns Libraries into Homeless Shelters
The first Alanis Morissette song worth listening to

tagged as lists | permalink | 0 comments

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Memory Day: Snapshots

It's Sprinkler Time.

tagged as memories, media | permalink | 1 comment

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Parks and Recreation, Season 2:
Parks and Rec improves drastically over its abbreviated first season, no longer feeling like a poor man's Office. Characters are fleshed out to be more than caricatures, and Amy Poehler is rewritten to be more naively optimistic than stupid. Rebecca has found a new favourite funny TV character in Ron Swanson.

Final Grade: B

Backatown by Trombone Shorty:
This album is a collection of brassy funk infused with hip-hop and soul characteristics. The benefit of funk is an unmatched groove, and the downside of funk is that a few songs are almost too repetitive and need some more variety. The songs without vocals are more successful, as are the ones that seem to channel a marching band from a historically black college. Here's the opening track, Hurricane Season.

Final Grade: B

Breaking Bad, Season 4:
I'm very torn on this season. On one hand, the first 2/3rds drags like Mahler and actually dissuaded me from watching. On the other hand, the plot and climax are a perfect distillation of organic storytelling, wrapping almost every plot point from the first four seasons together in a satisfying, yet slightly ambiguous ending. The show continues to sacrifice watchability for quality, and while the result is masterful, it's not always interesting. It needs to take "slow burn" lessons from The Wire, a show which managed to have both a satisfying season climax as well as satisfying forward progress in every episode. Bottom Line: If you get annoyed by long, lingering shots of artistically framed faces with no dialogue, the beginning of this season will annoy you, but the pay off is probably definitely worth it.

Final Grade: B

Weather.com:
When we planted our tomatoes on Tuesday night, the ten day weather forecast showed no below freezing days. Not two days later, it's 27 degrees outside and our plants are waiting out the frost under buckets, with potential casualties. Plus, the weather.com website has started autoplaying video clips with sound.

Final Grade: F

tagged as reviews | permalink | 2 comments

Friday, April 04, 2014

Where's BU?

Some Asians are naturally camouflaged against floral prints.

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

Monday, April 04, 2016

Weekend Wrap-up

This weekend, we drove up to Pittsburgh, the city of bridges, that functioned as a nice halfway point between us and our Columbus friends, Elisa and Sayak. Pittsburgh is the same distance away as Blacksburg, but infinitely more interesting of a drive.

We stayed at the Priory Hotel, a well-run, pleasant location with a free continental breakfast full of European-style cold meats. The staff was personable and the location convenient, although the immediate vicinity was a little run-down (we were across from a "Giant Eagle" grocery store and a row of abandoned stoops.

After arriving in town on Friday morning, we had lunch at the Modern Cafe and then took a tour of the National Aviary, where a bird ate a grub out of my hand. We then hit the half-priced Andy Warhol museum and had dinner at the Proper Taproom, where we had pizza and a flight of top-notch Pennsylvania beers.

On Saturday, we took a ride up the Duquesne Incline which offered a great view of the city but not much else (allot 15 minutes for it, and not the 3 hours we pre-paid for parking). The weather held stable as we walked the Strip District and ate sandwiches with embedded fries at Primanti Bros, but it got progressively colder and windier as the day went on. After a walk along the Allegheny River, we drove to Church Brew Works for the novelty of tasting beers in a former church. The beers were schizophrenic and forgettable, but the ambience was very cool.

It started raining shortly after, so we spent the evening back at the hotel with delivery food and the World Figure Skating Championship, which (to my untrained observation) just seemed like a bunch of unhappy skaters always about to fall over in time to butchered arrangements of classical music.

We arrived back home around 3 PM to a fecal funhouse. The lesson learned here is that it's okay to leave 2 cats at home for two nights, but with 3, you should probably get someone to stop by and change the litter box.

How was your weekend?

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

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

2018 Plans Status Check

With the first quarter of 2018 complete, how am I doing on my 2018 plans?

  • Consume more new content: I read a 1900 page fantasy trilogy last month and have restarted my long stale Netflix queue (currently watching Colony, Season Two) so I award myself a passing grade here.

  • Get back on the treadmill: I'm failing at treadmill time for two reasons -- (1) given the choice between exercising my body or my brain, I always choose my brain, and (2) when I'm on the treadmill in the early morning, I feel like I'll wake the baby up (directly upstairs) if I run too hard. However, I'm still walking with Maia every single day and my pants still fall off of my hips without a belt, so the lack of cardio isn't awful, just bad.

  • Learn to play the soprano recorder: I know 5 notes (G through D) and can play several songs from memory, but have not made as much progress as I could. If there were rewards like Book It pizzas, I would be more motivated. Passing grade, regardless, because I went to public school.

  • Try new things in cooking: The cool cooking book that Rebecca bought me has sat in the kitchen so long that it's faded into the background. I need to pick it back up again. Fail.

  • Don't work more than necessary: I'm doing great on this!

  • Maintain programming skills: I have not gotten back into programming yet. Instead, I went even further back to refresh my math skills in the areas vital to data science -- linear algebra, calculus, and statistics. I took all of these classes in undergrad for my math minor, but cared so little about them that I learned just enough to pass tests and then forgot it all. Last month, I started a self-study course in linear algebra and am making steady progress through Chapter Two right now. Passing grade!

What have you been doing with your life?

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

Monday, April 04, 2022

Recipe Day: Apple Pork Loins

Ingredients

  • 2 bone-in pork loin chops (1" thick, 1 lb each)
  • 2 small apples, wedged
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon brown mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Make an even bed of apples and onions in a casserole pan that can hold both loins next to each other.
  2. Mix syrup, oil, mustard, paprika, rosemary, and thyme in a flat container.
  3. Douse each loin in the marinade then lay in casserole pan. Drizzle remaining marinade across loins. Sprinkle cinnamon mostly on the apples. Season loins with salt and pepper.
  4. Let sit in fridge for 2 hours then bring up to room temperature about 30 minutes before cooking.

  5. Preheat oven to 375. Remove loins from casserole pan and precook apples and onions for 20 minutes.
  6. Oil a skillet and quickly sear both sides of each pork loin (A quick flip to each side, less than 30 seconds per side).
  7. Return loins to casserole pan and cook to internal temperature of 145 degrees (15 - 25 minutes).
  8. Let sit for 5 minutes before carving meat off the bones. Serve and enjoy!
  9. Bonus Treat: Soak any trimmed fat in the maple apple broth for an extra delicious artery clogger.

tagged as recipes | permalink | 1 comment

 

You are currently viewing every post from a specific month and day across history. Posts are in chronological order with the oldest at the top. On the front page, the newest post is at the top. The entire URI! Zone is © 1996 - 2022 by Brian Uri!. Please see the About page for further information.

Jump to Top
Jump to the Front Page

OLD POSTS
Old News Years J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
visitors since November 2003