This Day In History: 04/20

Saturday, April 20, 2002

I've only played two games since spring break: Serious Sam: The Second Encounter, and Dungeon Seige. The first game is a budget title with an amazing 3D engine by a drugged up team of programmers from Croatia. The game is a first person shooter like Doom but with an endless stream of monsters at all times. It definitely has personality and oddball humour, and is worth the money if your system can handle the frame rate, but you will be sick of first person shooters for a while after beating it. Dungeon Seige is the latest big-hype game on the block, published directly by Microsoft. It's an action role-playing game like the Diablo series, but has a fully 3D world with user-maneuverable camera and no loading screens between worlds. The story is nonexistant, and it doesn't quite have the charm of Diablo, but it is very addictive and will keep you playing for hours on end if that's the sort of game you're into. This summer, I'm hoping to finish off Zelda 2 on the N64, since it's the type of game you really have to sit down at for a couple hours at a time to make any progress in.

I finally finished the gargantuan task of converting all my MIDIs and scores to being compatible with Finale 2002 and the SC-8850. Every file on the Music page now has an 8850 compatible MIDI file, and several employ extended MIDI techniques. If you are hurting for disk space, and have many old Finale files on your hard drive, even the simple process of re-saving them in Finale 2002 will free up quite a bit of space. Most of my older scores from Finale 97 and before were reduced by over 600% just through re-saving.

I've been considering starting an experimental website for next year's cadre of FSU composers, combining a message board, uploading ability, and the Finale web plugin. The idea I had in mind was something of an open forum or round table, where any FSU composer with an account could post MIDIs and scores of whatever he or she happened to be working on on a weekly basis. Other composers visiting the site could listen and view works at their leisure, and post their comments and suggestions (non-anonymously) in a message board thread specifically made for that piece. I can see lots of benefits from such a site, but it would entail a hell of a lot of work. At the most, it will probably remain an intangible brainstorm, at least until my thesis is done. If you have any comments about this, send me an e-mail with your witty thoughts.

In the News:
Man gets cat out of tree... with gun.
Abercrombie & Fitch's new line of stylish racist T-shirts

Portal of Evil News is really a great place to go for off the wall news (www.poe-news.com). For this story about a naked man's attempted assault in a Subway sub shop restroom , their headline was "Girls attacked in Subway store by 6 inch on white".

tagged as games | permalink | 0 comments

Sunday, April 20, 2003

I took a trip down to Panacea yesterday to take in my final Floridan sunrise. Booty came along because I made her, and she's slowly getting more used to the cat carrier. The beach at sunrise is a quiet, relaxing place, but the sunrise wasn't as good as usual. There was so much fog and haze that the sun didn't actually rise until it was several degrees above the true horizon, so everything was already bright before the sun made an appearance.

There are new pictures from the beach on the Photos page under URI! Pictures, and also more Booty pictures in the usual place.

Yesterday I alternated between doing the violin transcription and setting up the News archive for URI-8. Violin triple stops are a pain to enter in Finale's Speedy Entry, but they do give my nose a workout on the piano.

This guy has more free time than I do.
Denver exhibit reveals what artist concealed

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Tuesday, April 20, 2004

I was reading an article about how much people tip these days, and some of them seem pretty ridiculous. When I'm at a restaurant, I always tip 15% (and rarely drop to 10% for horrible service). I tip my barber one or two dollars depending on the cut, and tip the pizza man one dollar plus remainder change on the order. Some people tip their pizza people generously, but it doesn't make sense to me, since their sole job is to deliver the pizza, and the pizza place is never more than half a mile from our house.

When I see a bathroom attendant, I shrug apologetically and opt out of their towel-handing services. Seriously, why bother paying someone to watch you pee?

Yesterday's notable search terms:

    growing radishes tall in two weeks, urizone on the horizon, bad thing that benito mussolini did, flashing at the urizone

We Built This City is the worst record ever

The news has been pretty dull recently.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Tonight on Alias we find out more about the strange guy pretending to be Arvin Sloane in another country with his own CIA-like operation. The actor they chose for the part, Joel Gray of Cabaret, looks alarmingly like Ron Rifkin's long-lost brother. Coincidentally, Ron Rifkin also played an identical role in a production of Cabaret in his career.

Guest Room Fest 2005 is halfway done, with all the walls painted a pleasing shade of colour. What remains is to recarpet the room, put in new moldings, paint all the trim, and buy some furniture.

Have a happy 4/20. Hopefully no one shoots up any schools today, unless they're intravenous school addicts.

Police called to the scene said Lyonne told the neighbor, "I'm going to sexually molest your dog."
"Reindeer do not normally run off cliffs when they are grazing on the top of the mountain," Pavval said
Journalist does not realize there is such a thing as "past tense"

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Higher Education Week: Fifteen Things I Learned in The Real World

  1. Your productivity will increase by 10% if you work from home rather than at the office.

  2. Always share an office with someone who spends most of their time on a customer site. That way you have a single office that's twice as big as a normal single, and no one can complain because you do, in fact, have an officemate.

  3. The average office employee will spend two or more hours out of their day not doing anything work-related. This amount increases if the employee smokes.

  4. The only skill you retain from college is how to work towards a deadline. The actual content of the knowledge you learned there is irrelevant.

  5. If you have someone on your team that listens to their voicemail over speakerphone, it is highly likely they have at least two more annoying habits.

  6. There is no such thing as a company motivational poster that actually does its job.

  7. Employees who seem "young" tend to get twice as much work done as their older counterparts, and they can even manage this after spending most of the time goofing off.

  8. If your job is 100% company-internal, or 100% schmoozing with customers, it is irrelevant. If your job somehow bridges the gap between these two, it is very important, but will never be recognized as such.

  9. Nothing worthwhile ever comes out of a meeting with more than four people in it.

  10. If some aspect of your job is highly divisive and handled differently on other teams, there will not be a corporate policy for it. Once someone finally gets around to making a corporate policy, team leaders will think it's too strict (or not strict enough) and do their own thing regardless.

  11. The people with the nicest offices and office furniture spend the least amount of time in the office.

  12. People who go out to eat for lunch every single day don't seem to realize that they're prolonging the amount of time they spend at work or interacting with people they can't wait to get away from at the end of the day.

  13. The more antsy you get about getting your security clearance, the longer it will take.

  14. If your company has an employee stock program of some kind, everyone will talk about it but no one will really be sure what it's all about.

  15. Even in a tech company, there will be tech-illiterate workers.

I will be out of town for the rest of the week, wasting gas money to visit clowns of yore, so there will be no Friday Fragments column tomorrow. Feel free to write your own and post it in the comments section. Have you added yourself to the URI! Zone Frappr Map yet ? See you all on Monday!

The game where your hamster devours you
This is not the time or place for grenades
Because faking six babies is so much easier than faking one

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Friday Fragments

because bulleted lists are far easier to write than paragraphs unless you're stuck with MS Word

♣ It's been an arduous week in an emotional holding pattern for me, which definitely affected any urge to write my usual cheery and lighthearted pulp. To propitiate for this paucity of pleasant posts, I promise that next week will play proprietor to a particularly pernicious panoply of puns, and maybe a Cat Media Thursday thrown in for good luck. I am mostly back to normal now, because Asians are resilient (as shown in the classic physics experiment where you roll an Asian off a two-story building and watch how far they bounce back up).

♣ I'm still annoyed with the media for giving so much airtime to the previously peripatetic perpetrator when they should have been focusing on the victims though. Last night FOX "News" posted an article hypothesizing that the shooter was possessed by Satan. You know things are out of control when the Washington Post, the most bleeding-heart liberal newspaper in the area, actually uses the phrase, "looking like he had just stepped out of a violent video game". I'm also glad that CNN finally took down that front-page picture with the gun and started rotating pictures of the victims.

♣ As a result of this week's events, traffic to this site doubled for a couple days, mostly from random passerby following links on the VT Music website which still has the picture of Booty jumping into the pool from 2003. I also started hearing from random VT people from my shady past on Facebook.

♣ I made a Facebook account approximately four millionbillion years ago, but never really used it (registering early accounts at random sites for no good reason is something I often do. I once had a six-digit ICQ number). With activity on the rise like a loaf of pumpernickel with a yeast infection, I decided to succumb to peer pressure and start using it.

♣ After the psychedelic Technicolour caterpillar pus that defines Myspace, Facebook is pretty sleek. Its clean interface and minimalist approach appeals to my neatnik side (Asians are neat, and we can also play Moto Perpetuo on the violin while taking our SATs in pen). In just a few minutes this afternoon, I was able to locate five thousand random historical figures that I'd all but forgotten about, like Jason Chrisley and George Washington, as well as people who went to high school with me as well.

♣ Speaking of high school, I was out at TC Williams last weekend to show Rebecca the ridiculous multi-phase construction project which entails building a new school next to the old one and then completely demolishing the original structure and replacing it with a parking lot. The new building is gigantic, with elevators and rotundas and windows so large that Canadian geese will be flying into them. Classrooms have high vaulted ceilings more common in McMansions, because apparently they are letting trolls go to public school next year. I know that Alexandria is a yuppy-town but the whole thing seems a little ostentatious -- it's a good thing they didn't build this during the Remember the Titans years because the football team would have been too busy eating lunch off of diamond-studded cafeteria trays to bond with each other.

♣ This weekend, my plans includes some online training for work, a Poker Night, and at least one naked tribal dance. On Sunday, we'll be working on the hall bathroom, which is currently completely stripped of fixtures and porcelain with plastic and duct tape covering up all the sewer holes to prevent the house from spontaneously combusting. It can't be any worse than a gassy Spellerberg though.

♣ Tomorrow is also Alyssa's birthday. Happy Birthday! Have a good weekend, everyone!

No one got his joke
It is the same way someone would feel if they were sprinkled with urine in their face
On marriage and chicken plucking

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Monday, April 20, 2009

New Feature Day: Birthdays

In between a birthday dinner at Foxfire Grill (where I had a delicious prime rib), Dim Sum (which is not just a TI-85 calculator command) at China Garden on Sunday morning, and five hours of work, I finally managed to complete the URI! Zone Birthday Calendar. You can see it on the right, just underneath the little calendar that links back to recent posts.

Gleaned from an initial dataload of every birthday listed by my 359 Facebook friends merged with the list I'd been keeping since high school that mostly had people I will never, ever see again, the Birthday Calendar now knows the birthdays of 361 different people, and will show you the birthdays coming up over the next four days (as well as any birthdays that happened yesterday, in case you're a horrible human being and missed one).

First up is Marc Nagy, who shares his birthday today with both Adolf Hitler and Carmen Electra. Happy Birthday!

Now that all this data is in place, I can add other features, like the ability to look at all the birthdays at once, see which days have the most birthdays, or link your birthdays to your Comments name so balloons and strippers appear on the screen when you visit. If your birthday isn't listed on Facebook and you'd like to feel important enough to be recognized by a website when the day comes, feel free to email your birthdays or your kids birthdays using the email link in the top bar!

Pirate statue stirs controversy
Force is strong for Jedi police
Box labelled "scorpions" doesn't hide the tortoises

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Museday Tuesday

As part of this feature, which I started in 2007, I compose a very brief work (under 30 seconds) inspired by a randomly generated title from an online word generator. The composition can be for any instrumentation, and could even be a purely synthesized realization that might not be possible to perform in the real world.

I work on the excerpt continuously for an hour and then post whatever I've managed to complete, even if it's a poorly constructed slum of a song supported by a foundation of droning double stops and abused tubas.

Commodious: (adj.) comfortably spacious or roomy

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

I started out with an airy, Nestico-like style, but couldn't help making it more ominous as it went on. This one's for a jazz ensemble.

Quadruplets choose same college
NJ man purposely vomited on Phillies fans
Pa. school snared 1,000s of webcam images

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

First Impressions: Portal 2

There are no spoilers in this review.

I was slow to the party in discovering the original Portal, but it's one of the few games I would wholeheartedly recommend to ANY gamer. The review I gave it in 2009 was:

The highly logical, entertaining puzzle game is wrapped in sardonic narration that ultimately reveals a crafty little storyline around the entire experience. It will only take a few hours to beat, but it's worth the time of anyone who likes puzzles and doesn't get dizzy in first-person games.

Portal 2 came out yesterday, and I downloaded it off of Steam for the high price of $49 -- like the various Blizzard franchises, I had enough confidence in the reputation of the Portal series to pay the full price. I'm currently in Chapter 4 and am enjoying it just as much as the original.

Puzzle-wise, gameplay is very similar to the original, with a few new features such as lasers that can be reflected in different directions, and floating bridges that can go through one portal and out another. It takes no time at all to get back in the proper mindset for the puzzles. Although there are a few basic puzzles up front, the tutorial phase is definitely shorter, so new players will definitely want to play the first game (both for learning AND story purposes).

The atmosphere of the game is top-notch, with tons of little flourishes and details. The game takes place a long time after the first, and the decay of the previously sterile, clean environment is done very well (although this makes it a little harder to determine the goal of any particular puzzle, since the visual noise is increased).

The story and voice acting to date is also great, and I've laughed aloud several times since I've started (and a computer game that can actually make me laugh is rare).

Bottom Line: It's a little pricey for what will probably be a shorter-length game experience, but it looks as if this will be a perfect case of quality over quantity. Definitely recommended.

Italian Butcher Arrested for Selling Decade-Old Meat
Formic Hivemind is a name of concern
GOP official apologizes for sending Obama chimp image

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Friday, April 20, 2012

List Day: Things You're Expected to Know Without Explanation

  1. How to open a microwave popcorn bag

  2. What the acronym, "GOP", stands for

  3. How to write the cents on a check

  4. Which fast food restaurants want you to leave your tray on the table

  5. The number of the hair trimmer attachment for your crew cut

  6. How to open a milk carton

  7. When to clap during a classical music concert

  8. Whether to tip for carry-out

  9. Numbering or bulleting a document in spite of the Numbering and Bulleting options in Word

  10. How to use a revolving door

  11. Finding the soap in an airplane lavatory

  12. Why you run water in the tub before switching to the shower head

  13. How to start lawn maintenance machinery

  14. How Broil differs from Bake

  15. How to order food in Vapiano's

tagged as lists | permalink | 8 comments

Monday, April 20, 2015

Weekend Wrap-up

We kicked off the weekend with a pleasant night on the porch at Old Ox Brewery, with giant sandwiches from Pittsburgh Rick's food truck (tasty but a little too much tasteless cabbage filler) and a flight of local beer. Behind Rebecca in this picture is a band of local roller derby teammates -- we only discovered this because one of them gave us a flyer for their upcoming match against the Beltway Brawlers (or maybe it was Capital Punishment).

On Saturday, Rebecca went on a 9 mile hike down the Bull Run - Occoquan Trail while I went to Costco and worked on AWS training slides. In the afternoon, we had lunch with Rebecca's parents and the Wright family at Clydes of Tysons, which also happened to be hosting two bat mitzvahs and some Ferrari Club that was taking up all of the parking spaces. Food was okay, but the service was slower than the plot in the show, Bloodline, with our food arriving a full hour after we got there. In the evening on Saturday, we sat on the back porch eating salads (and bonus hot dogs for me) and enjoying the hot weather pre-mosquito.

On Sunday, Rebecca went back to Bull Run - Occoquan to simulate her multiday hike in the Alps (14 miles this time) while I continued to work on training slides at home. In the evening, we drove all of the way out to the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, for the senior composition recital of Rebecca's cousin, Luke, who is diligently doing his part to add some much-needed undergraduate tonal music to the world's repertoire.

How was your weekend?

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken 33 years ago, back in 1983. I'm holding a yo-yo -- there always seemed to be at least two on the shelves of our home, but I could never do a single trick with them.

Unbeknownst to most historians and social media analysts, I invented the "duck face" pose.

tagged as memories | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, April 20, 2018

Maia Week #41 Battle Report

Maia is 9.43561 months old and oscillating around the 16 - 17 pound range depending on the distance between the Earth and the Moon. She is an adept crawler now, capable of closing the distance between rooms fast enough that I no longer bother picking her up when I move to another room myself -- she'll be by at her leisure. Everything tippable has been bolted to the wall now, so each room has about a 2:30 minute buffer where I'm comfortable turning away momentarily without the fear that the house will explode in my neglect.

Maia can also get back into a sitting position after crawling now, which is super cute but also makes naps take longer to begin. The crib has transformed from a place where there isn't much to do besides lie down or roll around and eventually fall asleep, turning into a place where sitting up now gives fresh new vistas of the room at large.

It has been warming up gently over the past couple weeks and we made it to the park once this week. The pond was a bust because of a hostile set of geese defending nests but Maia seems to remember the park and enjoys being outside. Rebecca is gearing up for the annual farmer's market circuit as well, which will allow Maia to get unrealistic perspectives on local commerce while Rebecca gets weekly nitro ice cream.

Maia also learned to drink through a straw after just one demonstration.

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

Monday, April 20, 2020

39th Day

With each day of self-quarantine running together featurelessly like every scene in Gosford Park, I don't have anything new to talk about today.

Here is a video of Maia going head-first down a slide for the very first time, taken exactly 1 year ago today.

Here's Maia independently discovering that she can hold a book up by crossing her legs, taken on the sly during the two hours she sneaks out of bed to read the Berenstain Bears every night.

And here are Maia and Rebecca reading yet another Berenstain Bears book online through the Loudoun Library, taken last night. Maia is intentionally wearing three layers, two of which are dresses.

How is your quarantine going? What is your quaroutine? Are you thriving or surviving? Share in the comments section, or better yet, get a blog so I have something else to read!

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

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Random Chart Day: Places I've Lived

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