This Day In History: 04/19

Friday, April 19, 2002

The final class of the semester finished off this morning, and I'm free of responsibility, other than a minor playing gig for an orchestration class this afternoon. Overall, this semester had a lot of ups and downs, but seemed to go quite a bit faster than last semester. I definitely got more accomplished this year though, and it looks like the summer will be chock full of useful activities.

I'll definitely be leaving Tallahassee on Monday, rather than Wednesday, so it would behoove you to send your going away gifts by priority mail. After a week's visit in Blacksburg (and maybe a few recordings of some older works), I start working at FGM on May 1 and I'll be in or around the D.C. metropolitan area for the remainder of the summer. If you're around, feel free to send me an e-mail sometime. Other than computer work, I have a few other irons in the fire: working on my thesis composition, learning some more on orchestration, exercise, getting a new computer, and possibly breaking in a new trumpet. My summers tend to be much busier than my school years, simply because it's easier for me to compartmentalize my time. As I've mentioned before, I get more work done in two one-hour blocks than when I have an entire day free to waste.

In other news, my friend Nikki passed her recital hearing yesterday, and her recital is scheduled to be on May 3. Even though it means another weekend road trip after I've started working, I'm pretty excited about it, because she's an excellent soprano. She was one of two sopranos at Virginia Tech that sang on my fifth-year recital in 2001. Both of them will be graduating this semester.

I've gotten word that the CD from my fifth-year recital is finally ready to go, so I'll be able to get a copy when I'm in Blacksburg. The version I have was really just a sound dump, with no editing or level mixing between vocalists and ensembles, so I'm looking forward to it.

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Saturday, April 19, 2003




Have a good weekend.

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Monday, April 19, 2004

Yesterday, I went out to one of Anna's sister's house in Winchester to help move an upright piano into the house. The size to cost ratio of the houses out there is ridiculous, and all of them are built with the new age high ceilings that have their own atmospheric conditions near the top. I think I would feel smaller than I already am in a house with rooms that vertically spacious.

After using Filezilla for a week instead of my usual FTP client, I've decided that it has enough pros to outweigh the cons. The interface is very customizable and supports multiple uploads and downloads with a variety of file sorting criteria. It can also keep idle connections alive and browse remote file systems with Windows style layouts. It's a little clunky when remembering your preferences but there aren't any major drawbacks to using it.

Yesterday's notable search terms:

    oak kitty booty, quotes by benito mussolini, urizone garbage, washington monument sinks six inches, "kelley corbett" carnival, footmen frenzy

Man who won't stop growing
My doggy had to go!

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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

I went out and bought four cans of Pebble Beige last night, using Anna as my seeing-color dog. The picture on the left shows a small test of the color next to a fragment of carpet. The picture on the right was computer-generated with a complex computer algorithm to show you how the room might look after it's painted.

Next up will be sanding, painting, carpeting, and then, of course, buying knick knacks and furniture.

However, the owner of the phone has since refused to have it returned to him saying it was damaged beyond repair and he would be filing an insurance claim.
Some girls say it's weird that he's still here, but the bottom line is they all want him.
Get paid to snitch on your classmates

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Higher Education Week: Fifteen Things I Learned in Grad School

  1. Everyone who went straight to grad school from undergrad did so because they didn't want to enter the real world yet.

  2. It is much harder to skip class in grad school because every class only has ten people in it.

  3. People in grad school become obsessed with going to conferences and presenting papers. If you do not attend at least one conference every term, you're some sort of strange aboriginal leper.

  4. Going to grad school will make you realize how woefully lacking your undergraduate education was. (You will not notice a thing going from high school to college though).

  5. 95% of people in grad school are bound for academia and tenureland. The other 5% will do something completely unrelated to their degree or become the night clerk at CVS.

  6. There will always be at least one grad school out there willing to subsidize your degree in exchange for an assistantship. People who pay for the whole thing themselves and complain about it didn't try hard enough.

  7. Being a research assistant on a project that's about to be cancelled is like winning the assistantship lottery. You get paid to do absolutely nothing.

  8. People from other countries will outnumber Americans 2 to 1, and they will generally be smarter than we are.

  9. You will hate undergraduate parties as a grad student, because you are old, feeble, and just want to go to bed without hearing a Nickelback cover band in your backyard.

  10. The youngest professors will impress you the most with the amount of knowledge they have compared to you, and the oldest professors will be the most memorable. The ones in the middle are still trying to get tenure and will be forgettable (they probably won't even remember you after you graduate).

  11. Graduate composers are just more grumpy versions of their undergraduate counterparts.

  12. In college, you have to make sure the girls aren't dating someone before you start hitting on them. In grad school, you have to look for wedding rings.

  13. Your undergraduate students will prefer you to their professors, but only because you're almost their contemporaries. Despite this closeness of age, dating your students is still frowned upon.

  14. None of the books in the library will be less than ten years old, but they will be the lynchpin of all your research.

  15. The amount of free time you have in grad school is obscene, and most likely the number one cause of procrastination and not being able to get anything done.

Happy Birthday Carly Williams!

Man lives the American Dream commute
Man with the worst commute
Bartering from a paper clip to a house

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Stuff In My Drawers Day

an occasional jaunt into my past via the crap in my drawers

I am not a particularly hatful person. It's not that I hate hats (for there's enough hate without hat hate), it's just that hats aren't really a part of my daily ensemble. This hasn't always been the case -- throughout my formative years, I almost always wore a ball cap on my head.

I can't really pinpoint the reason why, because it usually wasn't even a cool cap -- just whatever cheap cap I'd bought or received for going to this particular camp or that particular brothel. It definitely wasn't to hide hideous hat hair because anyone who knew me back then knew that my hair was generally just a little bit taller than I was at any given time (about 3/8"). I suppose it was just a comfort thing -- much like having a drink held in my hands at a hopping party, having a hat on my head gave me one more thing I could control in scary social settings.

For today's post, I dug out some of the many baseball caps from as early as twenty years ago and modelled them with my patented Asian sexiness. Did you know me during one of these phases? Let the nostalgia begin!


I got this hat at the National Capital Area Council "Discovery Scout Show" in 1989, which evidently had something to do with the space shuttle and a million hyperactive screaming Cub Scouts. I think they were taking the most obnoxious ones and launching them into space.

When you force the Boy Scout Troop you run to wear berets as part of the official uniform, you're not allowed to wonder why 50% of the incoming Cub Scouts drop out by the time they start Junior High. Je suis la sexe. That yolk-like reflection is unfortunately placed.

IMPEESA was a scout leadership camp. When I arrived with my backpack at the bus location, they almost denied me entrance because they said I was too short and too young and wouldn't make it through the arduous week. After a round of effective negotiation from my dad (which involved him saying, "He's going" while being six-foot-seven), I was on the bus to the crappiest leadership camp of all time. As retribution, they put me in the rejects' camp, and while all the other groups were falling into each others arms and crossing fake canyons on planks, we were back at camp playing cards and sword-fighting with sticks.

By the time our troop was down to about one person, someone high up finally realized that berets look retarded, and switched to the standard issue ball cap. I really need to shave -- I did not have this much facial hair in Boy Scouts.

I bought this hat at a regatta in my junior year of high school, and wore it perpetually for the next five years, well into college. I liked it because the adjustor in the back was high-class cloth, and not those stupid plastic snap-tabs that eventually crack down the middle.

Late in my Scouting career, I went to the Penn State Summer Camp for Science and Technology. Our disparate group of scouts from various troops all over the Mason-Dixon line was once again the troublemaking group, and to this day, I have no idea how it's possible to earn a Chemistry merit badge in a camp with no electricity.

When the URI! Domain first opened in 1996, llamas were a large part of the artistic motif. For no good reason, I also had the alias, llamaboy@vt.edu (which probably still works today). My mom got me this hat as a joke Christmas present, but I never really wore it much (whenever I did I'd have to explain it to someone, and this was in the era when doing stuff online was not cool. I am into peer pressure).

When I first went to college, I was of the mindset that wearing school clothing while attending that same school was mostly retarded, and on par with writing "Warning: Contains Nuts" on a package of peanuts. My stance towards this softened over the years until I bought this hat and then it was all downhill from there. I still don't wear shirts with advertising though.

My dad bought this hat for me when I moved down to Florida for grad school, but I never wore it a single time -- the brim is still perfectly uncreased and there's not a speck of dirt on the forehead band. This hat hung in the window of my apartment for two years, right next to the "FSU School of Music" bumper sticker, until it was knocked out by Booty, who liked knocking things out of the windows and peeing on them.

Booty doesn't wear hats.

Boy jailed over clock change mix up
Ethan Albright: Worst Player in the NFL
BU student in VT threat

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Weekend Wrap-up

Look! A new car! (Parked next to a jeep that no longer runs but does a great job of keeping the pavement dry!) We spent three and a half hours on Saturday morning at Tysons Honda purchasing a Civic EX and avoiding the slinking salesman we disliked from the previous visit who smelled money and was trying to get in on the action.

After driving the car around for a while to show it off and to encase it in a fine protective layer of pollen, we had lunch at Panera with Emily Green, and then came home for the first poker game of 2010, which Chris handily won.

Sunday was parent day, and opened with brunch at Foxfire Grill with the in-laws. Afterwards, we stopped in Arlington to say hello to Jack and Kristy (to put some meat in the parent sandwich), and then had rib roast for dinner at my parents' house.

Now that the car-shopping segment of 2010 is over, it's time to start planning some vacations so I can use up my 24 days of leave I have remaining. Maybe Washington state in July? The beach in September? Both? Maybe Sam and Kristen can uninvite some annoying relatives from their wedding and use the money to come to the beach with us instead.

$3M bond for white black bank robber
Bank heist foiled by bear hug
3rd Grade Hustler Gave Out Heroin

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Memory Day: Snapshots


Extrapolating from this moment in the past:

  • I am a backseat driver.
  • I would prefer to live in countries where they drive on the left.
  • I let the ladies drive me around town.
  • Seatbelts are for wusses.

What else can you learn?

Meat discovered in meatless magazines
Vegetable bandits strike as food prices soarT
Americans reluctant to share sex, work details on web

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Review Day: Rayman Origins (Wii)

There are no spoilers in this review.

Rayman Origins is a 2D platformer released late last year on multiple gaming devices. It is probably the closest experience you'll ever have to starring in your own Looney Tunes cartoon. Take the "anything goes because of a stoned Japanese game developer" vibe found in Wario Ware: Smooth Moves, polish and refine it to Disney-esque (and kid-friendly) levels, and you'll have a template for this game.

The gameplay is standard fare: maneuver through cleverly-designed worlds, collecting coins (lums) and dodging or smacking enemies. Thankfully, there are no Wii motion controls required, which automatically bumps this up over any Mario game in my book. I can't count the number of times Mario has died because I had to scratch my nose.

The controls and available moves are responsive, and the difficulty of the game is very challenging yet fair. If you die, there's a 95% chance that it's your own fault. I was never frustrated while playing this game, and this was abetted by the fact that you immediately restart at the nearest checkpoint after a death. Say goodbye to managing lives, GAME OVER signs, or having to return to your world map or spaceship after each death -- the challenge of Rayman doesn't need these artificial slowdowns. (Rayman also has underwater worlds that aren't annoying, which is a first in video games).

Because it's so easy to try again, some levels do require a bit of trial-and-error to know exactly where to be and when. I actually enjoyed these sections because I was able to get "in the zone" in a way that hearkened back to playing Life Force in elementary school. It also helps that all of the hardest challenges are optional.

The art direction in this game is perfect. Levels and characters are inventive and smoothly animated -- it's almost a shame that some levels barrel you across the world like Sonic the Hedgehog, because the environment is worth a second glance. This game also has the most musically cohesive soundtrack since Diablo 2, perfectly capturing the mood of each level with a mix of jazzy arrangements or nonsense scat, with common themes and motives woven throughout. Here are two of my favorite tracks:

  • Under the Sea (a pitch-black underwater abyss, surrounded by iridescent fish)
  • Food World (a kitchen filled with vengeful silverware and enemy vegetables soaking in hot broth)

Overall, Rayman Origins is a solid game purchase. If you are Anna or Paige, it is also a great spectator sport to watch from the nearest comfortable couch. I'm still only about halfway through the game, but this is more because of lack of time than lack of interest.

Final Grade: A

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Friday, April 19, 2013

The Daily Hour

The music-computer pendulum that is my life has swung quite far in the computer direction this past month. I've barely touched the electric bass in weeks, and have spent most of my free time writing code and gaining vast amounts of knowledge on embedded databases (H2, HSQLDB, Derby, SQLite), logging (Log4j, LSF4j, Logback, Commons), the Spring Framework, and all of the associated view technologies. I'd known much of it before, but technical knowledge has a shelf life of about two weeks before it's considered yesterday's news, so this was a good exercise to flex my web application skills. I specialize in blue sites.

To anyone who tuned out in the previous paragraph and worries that this will become a tech blog, I'll probably swing back to writing funk music 24 hours per day by the end of the summer, or sooner if I burn out on coding. You have to milk the enthusiasm while it's there though! Here is a list of blog-types that this blog will never become:

  • A programming blog
  • A daily log of my caloric intake
  • A live cam of our tomato plants
  • Weekly pictures of my pregnant belly

I'm still running while watching The Office 4-5 times a week, and briefly tagged 119 pounds before consuming a bowl of Shells and Cheese and bouncing back up to acceptable weights for blood donation purposes.

I also continue to try new cooking exercises (not pictured below), and expect our four tomato plants to bounce back from the frost any day now.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Your Day

I normally do all of the talking around here. So, catch me up on your life! What are you doing now that you weren't doing a year ago? Post some pictures of your new kids or pets. Where are you going on vacation this year? What gets you excited these days?

Answer any or all of the above, or just tell me something I didn't already know about you in the comments section so everyone else here can stalk you. This is called "crowdsourcing" in "the biz".

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Answers Day

The sequel to Questions Day

"Will you let us babysit your little one every so often? Remember, we've been through basic grandparent training with your nephews, so we're qualified." - Mom

Of course! We already have you down for August - October 2017 so we can go to Burning Man and then backpack across Australia.

"Feeling prepped for the arrival of little Uri? Anything least/most looking forward to?" - Evil Mike

We're in the process of painting the nursery and have acquired the minimum mandatory baby needs (like the car seat and the Oculus Rift). Beyond that, we're not going to stress it too much. We lead a pretty low-maintenance lifestyle, and the presence or absence of knick-knacks shaped like owls or ergonomic pieces of plastic with names like a Silicon Valley startup will not be what permanently messes up our child.

"Do you have any idea how to play sniper heroes? I see videos and try to replicate, but I can't snipe." - Evil Mike

I don't play any sniper heroes but I understand the mechanics:

  • Stay mobile, and don't stick around in the same perch after a couple kills.
  • Move your mouse with your whole arm instead of your wrist for better aim.
  • Instead of steady tracking as your target moves across the screen, practice anticipating their location and not moving your mouse until you're ready to shoot (flick-shotting). This reduces the amount of unsteadiness you introduce into your aim.
  • Bind "I need healing!" to your forward motion key.

"Looking forward to any upcoming movies?" - Evil Mike

I don't even know what movies are coming out any time soon, so I had to perform in-depth research. Apparently there's another Guardians of the Galaxy movie coming out next month, which is good because it's been awhile since I last napped through a movie.

"Politics...what's up with that? I just..." - Evil Mike

I've found that since I cancelled my Washington Post print subscription, I consume much less news in general. The online version, while timely, tends to show the same 3 article for days at a time, leading me to visit less often during the week. In this scenario, I only hear about the latest political fiascos on Sunday mornings unless they're particularly egregious, and I can't say that this has had any sort of negative effect on my life at all -- this must be what hippies feel like when they boast about intentional disconnection.

"Do you have a plan in place for the role of technology in Mike Jr.'s early life?" - Mike and Ghost Chompy

My personal desire would be a pragmatic balance between exposure and overstimulation. Technology is not inherently evil. There won't be any sort of zero tolerance policy on technology because it will be important to be able to pick up those skills. On the other hand, giving kids smartphones at the age of 9 is dumb and letting them play video games on a hike in the Shenandoah Valley is even dumber.

"Think it'll be weird to grow up as the first generation under full surveillance or will it be quiet adaptation in the way we were the first to grow up with Lunchables™?" - Mike and Ghost Chompy

The potential negative effect of so much monitoring is mitigated by the fact that the watchers cannot possibly hope to keep up with the data. There is so much new data being captured about the world and people in it through our devices every second that it is almost useless at a micro scale where it would impact a single person.

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Friday, April 19, 2019

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Secret City, Season Two:
For an omniscient police state, people seem to get away with a lot. This season has a more realistic conspiracy to unravel, but suffers from unnaturally muted reactions and overly convenient character relationships. There are also about 5 too many white men to keep track of. I enjoyed piecing together the conspiracy here but felt like this was the weaker of the two seasons. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B-

Two Degrees by Illy:
Illy is the pop-iest of Australian hip hop artists -- he's not a great rapper, but he writes good hooks and enables great collaborations with other artists. There are a few catchy tunes on this album but it's not amazing.

Final Grade: B-

Inside Black Mirror by Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones:
This book is a great coffee table companion to the series, Black Mirror, full of interesting commentary about the first four seasons from the creators, directors, and actors.

Final Grade: B+

Santa Clarita Diet, Season One:
I enjoyed this show more than I thought I would, mostly on the novelty of Timothy Olyphant in a comedic role and the fun dialogue. Drew Barrymore plays a housewife turned undead, and the shallow plots mostly consist of the clash between typical suburban life and the need to kill people to eat them. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B

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Monday, April 19, 2021

New Trail Day

Over the past month, we have been blazing a trail through the forest behind our house to reach a patch of daffodils that Maia enjoys. The forest is an HOA common area featuring impenetrable brambles, poison ivy, and twenty years of trash dumped by renters in the houses behind us. After the fifth time stepping over a fallen fencepost studded with nails, I decided that a trail would be worthwhile.

We hauled out tons of garbage and ancient poison ivy vines two inches thick, then raked a trail that goes in a small circle, allowing Maia to burn energy while we sit on stumps in the middle. There are three named sections of the trail: Dirt Trail, Daffodil Path, and Umbrella Tree Trail.

On Friday afternoon, we spread 86 cubic feet of pine bark mulch on the trail, resulting in a pleasant mud-free experience.

I'm currently checking with my local BSA to see if I can get some Eagle Scout credit for my work.

Here is Maia enjoying her new trail by running to the finish line.

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