This Day In History: 04/17

Wednesday, April 17, 2002

Now that assistantships have been publicized, I can share some details about what I'll be doing next year. Dr. Mathes gave me a vague outline on April 1, but I didn't get a chance to meet with the professor until just yesterday. Next year, I'll be working with Dr. Spencer to teach MUT 1001, a fundamentals class for freshman who didn't do so well on entrance exams. He will lecture on Mondays, and I'll follow up, proctor drills, and answer questions on Wednesday and Friday. The experimental class is part of a renovation package for KMU-206; apparently that room is getting outfitted with computers or something.

Because so much of learning fundamentals is just drilling, the materials will be made available online for students to do through interactive Flash applets, which Dr. Spencer has already created (and may eventually publish). The first semester will be a trial run of the actual class, with the second semester most likely devoted to coding, and improving software for future iterations. I guess that gives me one more program to learn this summer in the midst of my work and thesis preparation.

tagged as teaching | permalink | 0 comments

Thursday, April 17, 2003

I wish Finale hadn't changed the articulation shortcuts a few editions back. Before, they were ordered by common usage, with staccato being 1, accents being 2, and so forth. Now, they're haphazardly strewn across the keyboard by first letter or mnemonic. Staccato is S, and Accent is A, which is all well and good. Jazz hats are V because they look like a V, but legato markings are E, for reasons beyond my meagre understanding of music. Perhaps the Greek word for legato is Epsilipsilopsiloop.

Since my brain is still hardwired to the old shortcut keys, I end up with piano fingering numbers all over the place. Of course I could just change them all back to the original settings, but I keep fooling myself into believing that I'll eventually take the time to learn the new keys.

New Booty pics are up. They're Bootilicious.

Poll: What should the new domain name of the URI! Domain be? www.insert-something-here.net (Llamaboy is taken by Disney) Answer using the Comments button above.

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Saturday, April 17, 2004

We put in a new patio door today. Now it's time for poker.

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Monday, April 17, 2006

Higher Education Week: Fifteen Things I Learned in Public Schools

  1. If random thugs have slashed open the back of the bus seat in front of you, you can use the hole to store your boogers and chewing gum. Updated for the 21st Century: If MS-13 members have slashed open the back of the bus seat in front of you with a machete, you can use the hole to store your drugs and handguns.

  2. Playing with yourself in the bathroom right next to the band room is a bad idea, because someone will catch you and you will not live it down until you graduate five years later and move away. [Editor's Note: This was an alto sax player, not me.]

  3. If one of your classmates gets a stomach bug and vomits up his lunch in your classroom, the smell will never go away 100%, no matter how many chemicals the janitor applies to the tile.

  4. If you live on the complete opposite side of the city from your spring sport, you can never trust the Activity Bus driver to know where she's going, because she only took the job to earn a few extra bucks, and will eventually give up and drop you off wherever she happens to be.

  5. If a teacher ever writes "Brian needs to work on his handwriting" or gives you a U in penmanship, it will not affect your long-term prospects for getting into college or running for office, so just give them the finger.

  6. No one really knows the words to the school song unless they went there before 1975.

  7. If you have a crush on someone, you have to confide it to the person most likely to tell everyone without a moment's thought, then pretend to be upset about it, but be secretly relieved the the word has been disseminated. Plus, if that person doesn't like you back, you can blame the blabbermouth for all of your life's woes.

    1. Girls are big big trouble.

  8. If you are a Safety Patrol, you can roll up your orange vinyl belt into a tight projectile and then whip it out at someone like Spiderman casting webs. If you are an officer, just make sure they don't get hit with your badge, or they will cry and tell on you.

  9. There will always be at least one classmate who is incapable of opening his milk carton correctly every day. Normally, he'll just open the wrong side, but sometimes he'll mangle the top so badly that he'll have to get a new carton. This same person will also not be very good at Origami during Art class.

  10. The kids in the Talented and Gifted program are generally pretty stupid, and will give you your first real-world shock when you start thinking about the people who aren't in the program.

  11. The kids with the nicest cars (generally received the day of their 16th birthday) will be the worst drivers. As you add more passengers to their cars, their driving skills will linearly decrease.

  12. If you play Nerf soccer in the band room, only use the bass drum as a goal when you are sure that no teachers are around.

  13. There will always be rumours about people who had sex in the auditorium, the lighting room, or backstage. They are all 100% true.

  14. If you get a teacher who says that they taught your parents or the parents of one of your friends, you are guaranteed to not learn anything worthwhile for that semester.

  15. If you are now in college and go back to the high school to visit your younger girlfriend, this is seen as a cool and acceptable practice. If, however, you are more than seven years older than she is, she is not a senior, and you hang out with her constantly at the boathouse even though you yourself don't do Crew, this is just considered creepy. There will be at least one creepy guy in the latter category every three or four years.

Happy Birthday Kim!

Yummy mummy worms are gross
This is not the time or place for ninjas
Midriffs put you off your eating

tagged as lists | permalink | 4 comments

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

For Virginia Tech1

Today's Newsday Tuesday entry was originally about the supposed Internet buzz surrounding Shia LaBeouf's starring role in Indiana Jones 4 and why anyone would care about an unknown soul who sounds more like a tasty French cuisine than an actor. In the aftermath of yesterday's shooting at my alma mater, that post seems eminently discardable.

Thankfully, the people I know directly like my sister, her husband, Zone-reader Jaood, and Anna's sister have all reported in and are safe. In a win for serendipity, Anna's sister was actually supposed to be in class in Norris Hall, but was delayed by a phone call from her mom (who wanted her to see something unrelated on television before anyone knew something was going on).

The seedy underbelly of the crisis emerged almost immediately. CNN provided minute-by-minute updates with casualty numbers shifting in every direction based on whoever happened to be talking at the moment. The news site clamored for any videos or cellphone calls they could get their hands on, and as the death toll went up, so did the magnitude of the nouns. The shooting escalated from a tragedy to a massacre to a bloodbath, as if the reporters realized that every single noun was so sensationally overused that it no longer had any effect.

Soon after, I received a Facebook invitation from a tactless reporter trying to get an "in" on the Virginia Tech network, which I rejected, in a manner much more polite and restrained than I originally wanted. Democrats pulled out their gun-control soapbox (which is only about six inches high after so much use) and Republicans all lined up to get their quotations on the air so people would remember that they're running for President.

Over at FOX "News", the reporters were spouting the worst in hearsay and conjecture while continuing to emphasize that none of it had yet been confirmed. After an Asian reporter was photographed handcuffed outside the building, they immediately reported that the shooter was an Asian engineer (luckily for them this eventually turned out to be true, but it was based on the wrong guy). Meanwhile, Jack Thompson, the human scab, was proclaiming on national television that violent video games were the cause, and that the police would probably find Counterstrike installed whenever they found his computer. With every media outlet clamoring to be the scariest or most tasteless, it's amazing that these events can still touch us at all.

Sometimes people try to use these incidents to draw attention to the bigger picture. "How can you care so much about thirty deaths," they argue, "when genocide is occurring daily in Darfur?" And it's true -- thirty deaths are not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, because the world is that full of shit. At least 500,000 Tutsi's were murdered in the Rwandan genocide of 1994. In the past four years, 1,857 minors were murdered in Rio de Janeiro. Child sex trafficking is thriving in Asia, a continent where prostitution makes up 60% of Thailand's governmental budget and an estimated 400,000 prostitutes are children. Parents abuse their children, husbands set their wives on fire, and billions of people live and die in poverty.

I'm aware of all of this, and I don't care. I can't care.

When 9/11 occurred, I felt sad for the people who had died, and those who had lost someone. The next morning, and subsequent mornings, I got up and went about my usual business. 9/11 wasn't really on my mind, and I didn't feel like I had any particular personal stake in it. I recognize that this is a defense mechanism -- that if I were to acknowledge just how awful things can be in the world, how much of it is beyond my control, and how ridiculously outside our frame of reference a phrase like "one million deaths" is, I would be crushed under the sheer scope of tragedy. I would loose hope, faith, and strength -- the belief that the world DOES have its good side -- and that is a dangerous thing to lose. It's not that I'm jaded -- it's that I'm doing everything in my power to keep from becoming jaded.

I had been following the Virginia Tech events on CNN.com since the first "Breaking News" item appeared early in the morning. The media first reported that there were over thirty deaths when I was coming home from work. Driving down Church Road with the fifty mile wind gusts and the foreboding skies, I felt a nauseous churning of anger, sadness, shock, relief, voyeurism, and guilt. I can visualize the buildings where it happened. It could have been me, or someone I care about. The number thirty is tangible -- I can picture thirty people. I can see in my mind how many seats in an auditorium that would fill up. I can wrap my mind around the understanding that every one of them had a life story, a family, and a name. And for that reason, it's far more powerful than a mass genocide.

The fact that a "smaller" incident like the Virginia Tech shooting can still arrest the country's attention is a good thing -- it shows us that we still care about our fellow human beings, and that we are not so desensitized to violence and sadness that we can shrug our shoulders and move on. How can you relate to one thousand deaths, or even one hundred deaths, if you feel nothing for thirty, or even one?

The breakdown occurs in how we collectively deal with the aftermath -- we, as a country, delight in playing the blame game. We dig up facts about the shooter or his parents find evidence of his evil. We blame guns and games and then pass empty laws in a symbolic attempt to control them. Already, people are pointing fingers at the university for the second shooting because they should have had the hindsight to lock down the campus faster. (I believe that the response was as good as it could have possibly been, and think the university should be commended). People who are ALIVE and will wake up in their own beds tomorrow are whining that they were kept in the dark during the lockdown, when they should be thankful that the safety plan prevented more chaos and injuries.

Blaming someone or something is a cheap workaround to shouldering any responsibility. Instead of wasting so much energy finding someone to blame, why can't we just let the dead be dead, and mourn with the living? Why can't we let ourselves be sad for the lost lives without vendettas and excuses? Rather than point an accusing finger at the nearest scapegoat, go home and hug your wife / husband / parents / children / cats / dogs. Find the people you love and resolve to take better care of them. I am not trying to paint the shooter as a victim here -- I'm angry that he chose such a selfish way to go, but I'm also sad and not totally surprised that there are souls so full of rage or loneliness or any unhealthy emotion that they believe violence is their only option. If we spent more time healing and watching out for each other, the world would be a much saner place.

So please, if you get nothing else out of today's post, go home this evening and be thankful for the people you care about. Don't take your friends and family for granted, and never feel that you are all alone in this world.

On a lighter note, today is Kim's birthday. Happy 27th!

1: I debated for a long time yesterday about whether to write anything at all about this -- partly because I think that by writing about it, I am no better than all the other vultures I disdain, politicizing an event I have no true connection to for my own gain. The fact that I decided to proceed highlights how strongly I feel about what I've said (that, and the three tortorous hours it took to edit my disparate thoughts into a hopefully coherent statement). I stand by everything I've written here, and hope that you'll forgive the temporary break in levity-inducing posts about cats, Alias, and Les Miserables.

tagged as newsday, deep thoughts | permalink | 9 comments

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Fragments

a roundhouse kick to the Internet

♠ Exactly three weeks ago, I started a new Warcraft character on a new server after learning that Kelley had the secret shame of playing the game. We are now members of the Delta Mu guild on Dawnbringer. Leveling up is ridiculously easy now, and the new character is already level 67. Maybe in 2 more levels, we'll be able to convince Doobie and Philip to play as well.

♠ Besides playing games and conscripting my dad to build a closet in the basement, I've been busy at work because our four month "sprint" is finally drawing to a close at the end of this month. When not assisting clueless users with testing or accidentally calling a woman with a Vietnamese name by "Mr." in support emails, I've kept up with technology by taking the annual security training offered by the government.

♠ The briefing is more annoying than usual because each page is a Flash applet that takes ten seconds to load and asks ridiculous questions about what to do when your coworker Miguel tells you that he's found a website with free music downloads. Apparently the RIAA has infiltrated the Department of Defense, since the only correct answer for this question was "THAT'S STEALING!". I was not aware that 100% of music downloads on the Internet were illegal. Damn those Hispanic coworkers and their pirating ways.

♠ There are surprisingly few Spanish pirates in popular culture. I suppose they all lost their mojo after the defeat of the Spanish armada in 1588.

♠ Surprisingly, I remembered the date of the armada's defeat from fifth grade history class, although I did look it up on Wikipedia to be sure. Meanwhile, I don't remember a single fact from my "Roman World and Early Christianity" class at Virginia Tech except that it's very hard to skip during a class with only 7 people.

♠ Speaking of Wikis, the series whose Wiki I contribute to is being rereleased in the United States with fresh new covers (and maybe even different characters and a bonus ending). I'm purchasing the set as it's published, which means that I have old paperback copies available for borrowing if anyone is curious about the books. People either love or hate the series though -- one person I recommended it to (actually the Internet Canadian who was in love with me) was bored out of her mind. Paige also read the first book, but she never revealed what she thought about it. On the other hand, Paige is naturally reticent and unopinionated unless you ask about her former piano teachers.

♠ With work (hopefully) returning to normal soon, I've been in search of something new to fill the void left by paid overtime. The last time work receded like low tide was February 2007, and in the single week that followed, I beat the Legend of Zelda on the Wii, renovated my office, and also met some random chick who's now going to become my future wife. Since I don't necessarily need TWO wives, I've decided to fill the upcoming void by writing the music for a marching band show for Patrick Butler, in his role as the director of the Pulaski County High School band. This ought to be good.

♠ Plans for the weekend include the tentative possibility of nonstop work punctuated by the birthday of Rebecca's dad. I may also finally get around to implementing a Birthday Calendar here on the URI! Zone now that Facebook's revised edition has the usability of a two-ply toilet paper condom.

♠ Speaking of birthdays, Happy Birthday to Kim! Have a great weekend!

High tech thief steals Hot Pockets and chicken wings
Woman's vacation ruined by urination
Dolphins either thwarted pirates or went out for a swim next to a boat

tagged as fragments | permalink | 5 comments

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Outspoken Day

As I look out across the Facebook wasteland of maroon and orange ribbons, the concatenation of 4s and 16s with no sequence of squares in sight, and the maudlin, pasted "Never Forget" status messages, I would like to respectfully disagree.

Please DO forget. It happened, it was sad, and it was five years ago. This event doesn't need reminders or anniversaries -- it was not a birth, or a wedding, or the time you got all of the achievements in Halo. Take a moment to honor the memories of the people you lost and move on with your day. Keep growing.

Your continued life and love of others is a far better tribute to those no longer with us than any collective Internet campfire song.

tagged as deep thoughts | permalink | 3 comments

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Memory Day: Snapshots

These pictures were taken fourteen years ago today, on April 17, 1999. The lot of us, Jason and Rosie, Doug and Becky, Jen, and myself, took the weekend off from school and went to Busch Gardens. Because we stayed up until 3 AM playing Pictionary at Rosie's parents' house in Newport News the night before, we didn't actually get to the park until 10. And, we were so tired that we left by 6, officially making it the least cost-effective theme park visit of all time.

I made a detour to my own parents' house in Alexandria on the Friday before this trip. My dad handed me this new "digital camera" invention he'd just bought for the first time, and told me to give it a try in the park. It took pictures at 600x450 pixels and saved them to giant CompactFlash cards, and just barely fit into the pocket of my Members Only jacket.

tagged as memories | permalink | 0 comments

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Gravity (PG-13):
This is probably one of the more stressful movies you'll see this year. We saw it at the Greenbrier, which means that the screen was slightly bigger than watching in the living room, but more like a high school assembly than a true movie theater showing. I enjoyed how self-contained and spartan it was, especially in the context of the fact that most of the movie is CGI. They overused the suspenseful music -- possibly to counter the fact that there is no noise in space -- but I felt like silence might even have been a better tension-builder in many places. Rebecca did not like this movie.

Final Grade: B+

American Hustle (R):
This was an enjoyable character-driven film starring Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, and Amy Adam's cleavage. It plays like a heist film, except that it's very easy to follow. After a fairly slow start, it kept my interest all of the way to the end.

Final Grade: B+

Diablo III: Reaper of Souls:
All of the thoughts I recorded in my First Impressions post last month still hold true. I'm still regularly playing this game and having a ton of fun exploding things for loot. There's a surprising amount of replayable content for an expansion pack, and all of the original problems with Diablo III have been resolved in positive ways. At this point, the primary (but minor) annoyance is just the UI -- I wish that skill assignment were easier, tooltips were more exact, and it were easier to compare gear in intelligent ways.

Final Grade: A

Conair GMT10CSB Cordless/Rechargeable Beard and Mustache Trimmer :
This trimmer is serviceable for its primary task, but has too many oddball adjustment settings that sometimes slip out of place. There's barely enough charge for 3 - 4 trimmings, which means it spends a lot of time plugged in. This adds to the clutter if your bathroom counter surface is already small.

Final Grade: C

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Friday, April 17, 2015

Questions Day

It's time for another Questions Day. Ask anything you want, be it about myself, the world, or something you don't understand. I'll answer all of your questions next Tuesday!

tagged as you speak | permalink | 2 comments

Monday, April 17, 2017

Weekend Wrap-up

On Friday night, we enjoyed the non-fluctuating warmth of April with back porch burgers and then watched the OJ Simpson crime show until Rebecca fell asleep.

On Saturday, we met again with our doula to talk baby stuff and then went Ben and Andrea's baby shower in Arlington to baby baby with baby baby baby because baby. We then stopped by my parents' to wish my mom a Happy Birthday and picked up some Potbelly's on the way home.

On Sunday, I worked in the morning, walked 2 miles on the treadmill, cleaned 2 years of accumulated grease out of the grill to prepare for for summer grilling, did a nature walk through Claude Moore, did a propane exchange, bought two shades of paint for the ex-office nursery, spackled a bunch of willy-nilly holes, and then did nothing for the rest of the day.

How was your weekend?

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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Time-lapsed Blogography Day: 19 Years Ago Today

19 years ago today, on April 17, 2000, I was unusually productive. It was my fourth year of undergrad at Virginia Tech and there were only 2.5 weeks left in the school year. I started the day by working on my second (and ultimately aborted) text adventure game, Robin Caruso, still high off the success of Augmented Fourth which had finally been released 17 days earlier.

After a morning conducting class with Dr. Glazebrook, I had an early lunch at Shultz Dining Hall with the usual band of music misfits. I then went to Computer Graphics in McBryde (a disappointing class where we spent most of the time doing viewport math instead of actually writing OpenGL code).

Our high-tech MIDI class was cancelled this day, so I hung out at the couches for another hour before walking Nikki to work and then heading back to East AJ. I also learned which Foxridge apartment I'd be living in with Anna and Rosie in the fall.

In the evening, I volunteered to play trumpet at Marching Virginians drum major auditions, although I'm pretty sure that I was the only trumpet playing the notes written on the page at the right octave. Auditions were immediately followed by Jason and Dave's recital (I'm presuming Chrisley and Reynolds but I no longer remember for certain) where my accompanist page-turning skills were in high demand. In the aftermath, we gathered at Nikki's apartment for post-concert drinks.

tagged as memories | permalink | 2 comments

Friday, April 17, 2020

Virtual Paint Day

On Day 35 of self-quarantine, we did a virtual painting date through Pinot's Palette. Rebecca picked up the canvases and paints from our local shop where we used to do paint dates in person. I jury-rigged an easel using scrap wood and dozens of zip ties.

Guess which one of us painted the Left and Right pictures!

tagged as media, day-to-day | permalink | 4 comments

 

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