This Day In History: 04/21

Sunday, April 21, 2002

With over 3100 visitors in nine months, the Sixth Edition of the URI! Domain draws to a close. It's been a great run, and the second semester saw even more people waste their ephemeral lives here than the first. If you've been a regular reader, I thank you for giving me the impetus to maintain daily updates, regardless of whether they were of any lasting value to the human psyche. So I don't burn out on making updates, this site will only be updated on a weekly basis (most likely on the weekends) until school starts up again in August. If you are incredibly bored, take a moment to explore other sections of the Domain, or go to the Archive and read my old news updates (yes, there really are nine months worth of trite news to enjoy!)

I was definitely more verbose this semester than the previous semester, since I actually had an audience that tuned in regularly, for whatever reason. Since I've gotten a few questions about how I actually go about writing for this page, I thought I'd take a moment to eludicate.

I always keep a shorthand list of topics that might be interesting to discuss on the News page. Many of them are no longer topical by the time I get around to using them, but most can contribute at least a line or two. Every day (usually early in the morning or around seven at night) I sit down and decide what sort of interesting things I'll discuss. If I can't think of anything particularly appealing, I'll turn to my list for ideas. I try to keep a balance between the computer and music stuff, because I know that not all readers are interested in one or the other.

After I've written (and hopefully proofread) the day's entry, I'll decide if it warrants a sleek graphic and take some time to create that. I'll then view everything locally, using OmniHTTPd to set my computer up as a local server, to see how it will look to the outside world. Once it's perfected, I upload the news to the Tech music web server and look at it again at the llamaboy address. This allows me to catch the occasional mistake that slips through, like forgetting the graphic. Honestly, I haven't browsed on the Internet with images turned on since I had Ethernet in 1999, so sometimes the graphic gets forgotten and I don't notice it right away. Once everything looks good to go, I'll bump the old entries off to the archive page and I'm done. For the techno-geeks, I write my pages in a hybrid of JavaScript and HTML, so it's incredibly easy to isolate entries and move them around at will. Take a look at the source code for this page in IE if you're interested; Netscape does not show JavaScript code all the time.

When I'm particularly industrious, I'll write a couple days worth in advance. This whole process usually takes twenty minutes to a half hour. On special feature or featurette weeks, it usually takes about an hour, because of the extra research involved. I also get sidetracked when researching sometimes, and forget that I'm supposed to be updating! It's a wonder that I managed to update so regularly with everything else going on.

Tomorrow I'm off to Blacksburg, so there probably will not be any updates next weekend. The next scheduled update will be sometime over the second weekend in May, although I'll try to get a quickie in before that.

Cheers, matey.

Late-breaking update:
I got my FGM employment letter in the mail with a nice $2.04/hr raise attached to it. When I get back to town in August, I'll take everyone out for Chinese food to celebrate. "Hooray!"

"The Trumpet now became a much more subservient instrument. It was 'warned off' the obbligato ground altogether and dethroned from the ridiculously false orchestral position which it had hitherto occupied. This was all to the good in the cause of music. Indeed one may say that without this step the development of the Symphony would have been an impossibility. So long as the Trumpet -- the most aggressive of all instruments -- was allowed to play tunes in its top octave all pleasure in the orchestral ensemble disappeared as far as the unhappy audience was concerned." - Cecil Forsyth in Orchestration

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Monday, April 21, 2003

I finished the violin sonata transcription just a few minutes ago. It took about forty hours total, and luckily all of the measures didn't look like this one. When it comes to nonstandard notation, Finale is a lot less capable than you might think, although it generally does a good job of faking it.

Now, the only school-related task on my to-do list is to grade some sightsinging exams at the end of the week and submit final grades. After that I'll spend the remaining couple of days packing and playing with my Booty.

I have a whole list of things I'd like to do once I'm back in Virginia, although some of them have been on my list for years now. Even though I really enjoy it, I don't plan on making my job the focal point of my life -- I'm still too young to end every day by coming home from work and watching TV all night long. Perhaps, I'll post some of my list tomorrow.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2004

I went home to seed and fertilize the yard yesterday but today's expected showers have given way to partly cloudy conditions with a high of 80. I also removed the cherub birdbath from the front yard becaues it kept tipping over in the wind. If I decide to put it back up, I'll place it in a nonmowable garden area with a less ridiculous centerpiece inside the fountain.

I finally got the home network working last night after a couple weeks of wrestling. The intermittent connection drops were the result of a USB Ethernet adapter that wasn't transmitting correctly. Replacing it with a traditional PCI card fixed the problem instantly. Now, up to four computers can be networked inside the house for gaming, and all of them can access the Internet through my computer without requiring any routers. I didn't even have to buy any new equipment to make it all work out.

This afternoon, I'll be going out to look at grills and lawn mowers.

Yesterday's notable search terms:

    program of the robot composer recital, thoreau quotes "i was determined to know beans", why pine trees stay green all year, flying hippopotamus, graduated from maryville high school tennessee, doritos plastic cans

Chocolate for passwords
Girl for sale, "You can play with her"

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Thursday, April 21, 2005

A pet peeve of mine is having to write the account number on checks when paying bills, especially in the case of Adelphia, who assigns account numbers with fourteen digits and a spicing of hyphens. If I, the paying customer, am taking the time and a stamp out of my day to give you money, then your no-talent customer support staff should be able to read the account number off the bill. Or, you could take three cents out of your enormous profits to give us all little stickers with the account numbers printed on them. To alleviate this situation, I write the account number as fast as possible, so it slows them down with deciphering time on the other end.

I also find it ironic that Adelphia is my provider for cable and high-speed internet, yet I cannot pay my Adelphia bills online. I believe this feature was marked as "coming soon" when I first moved up here a year ago.

Ants gearing up to take over the world
Drunk monkeys gearing up to take over the world
Elephants gearing up to take over the world

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Euro-tic Adventure, Part I of X

Monday, March 31, 2008

With the cats successfully sent off to grandma's house and our ridiculously tiny bags packed, we were dropped off at Dulles by Anna around 4 PM on Monday the 31st. After successfully navigating the always-flustering security checkpoints, we arrived in Concourse D which was chock full of every brand name store possible, from Border's to Starbucks. Travelling 100 yards down the concourse brought us to exact duplicates of these stores, making me worry for a moment that we had actually circumnavigated the globe in a looping terminal straight out of an Infocom game.

This was my first international flight, a nonstop affair from DC to London in 8 hours, and I was surprised by how many gadgets were available. We flew United, and each seat had a video monitor in the headrest where you could choose from the movies of the month (Juno, Dan in Real Life, and Enchanted), several TV shows (like House or King of the Hill), or a GPS view of where the airplane was at all times, how fast it was going, and how could it was outside (-72 F).

I spent most of the trip enthralled with the mapping feature while listening to the built-in XM Radio. Dinner consisted of some tasty bacon-flavoured green beans and some nasty chicken squares which tasted like damp hackeysacks (we resolved to get the Pasta option on the return flight). Because we had a night flight, we tried to get some sleep so we could tackle London at full strength, but this was only partially successful. I probably managed to sleep until Greenland after which I woke up with an uncomfortable crick in my neck, tired enough to confuse the light on the end of the wing with the Moon. Gone are the days where I could fit my entire body into a fetal upright position and stay comfortable, not to mention that I was sharing the row with Rebecca who is a giant and takes up at least four seats with her shoes alone. Luckily, the plane wasn't too crowded, so we had three seats for the two of us.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

My first view of the UK came at dawn, with endless rows of identical houses and really skinny backyards. Everyone was driving on the left side of the road, proof that this was a real phenomenon, and not just some myth made up to make American left-handers feel better about themselves. We disembarked deplaned around 7 AM London time (five hours earlier than Virginia) in a chilly rain, and were herded to the Passport Control warehouse where the lines were divided into UK/EU passports and "The Rest of the World" (which had the snide caveat "including the US" attached in italics). Our line queue looked like the entrance to the Superman Tower of Power theme-park ride (before it chopped that girl's feet off) while the EU passport-holder breezed through without a wait.

After an hour wait and copious promises not to import any snakehead fish in our pants, we were dumped into the London Underground, where a helpful Tourist Information official showed us how to use tube tickets and nudged us towards the Piccadilly line train to Cockfosters. Sadly, we never actually visited Cockfosters (or for that matter, East Ham or Tooting Broadway). Despite the oversaturation of ads, I was impressed with how clean, helpful, and efficient the Tube was when compared to the only other Metro I've ridden on in DC. Tube announcements (and London in general) was brimming with charming, almost-apologetic information, like constant admonitions to "mind the gap" in stations where the platform and the train are a few inches higher or lower. In the states, such a situation would never occur, since engineers would be deathly afraid of a lawsuit from someone tripping.

Our Bed & Breakfast was near Victoria Station, and after a little orientation around our Tube exit, we arrived at a cramped but clean building on Eccleston Square recommended by no less than Rick Steves himself. Our rooms wouldn't be ready for a couple hours, so we dropped off some bags and wandered into the city to find breakfast. We ate at the Caramel (a bacon & egg sandwich with a pain au chocolat for me, and an omelette for Rebecca) where we were first introduced to the social norms of picking our own table, and peeing in the basement.

Even though everyone around us spoke English, we were very self-conscious that first day (highly contrasting our return trip to London two weeks later when just HEARING English was a relief). We were also in pound-shock this day -- prices in pounds made perfect sense if the pound were a dollar (for example, a hamburger and fries might be 8 pounds), but the exchange rate was double, so that 8 pound burger was actually costing us 16 dollars. We eventually had to learn that you CANNOT convert the price into dollars in your head or you'll constantly be faced with buyer's remorse or shy away from enjoying your trip. This took about 4 days to learn.

After breakfast, we walked a half mile towards Buckingham Palace to drop in on the Queen. She was out, but we got to experience the Changing of the Guard. Unfortunately, all the prime ogling spots were taking, but I experienced it virtually with the ridiculous zoom on my camera. This picture here was taken from at least 100 yards away from the action, through a fence and over the head of some snotty French middle schoolers on a field trip. From the palace, we wandered through Monument Park, which had a haphazard monument for every event you wouldn't really care about. There may have even been a monument celebrating New Zealand. At this point (1 in the afternoon), jet lag was catching up to us, and we wandered back to the hotel for an afternoon nap.

To Be Continued tomorrow...

New children's book for mommy's plastic surgery
11-year-old takes school network by the horns
Drunk Russian sleeps off knifing

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Newsday Tuesday

Rainy Weather Forecasts Misunderstood by Many

To bring an umbrella or not to bring an umbrella? That's the perennial question on those days where the chance of rain is less than 100 percent. But only half the population understands what a precipitation forecast means well enough to make a fully informed answer, a new study finds.

If, for example, a forecast calls for a 20 percent chance of rain, many people think it means that it will rain over 20 percent of the area covered by the forecast. Others think it will rain for 20 percent of the time, said Susan Joslyn, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Washington.

A statistically insignificant amount of students tested thought that only 20 percent of the rain would hit the ground because of "evaporization and stuff".

To test people's understanding of these precipitation forecasts (known as probability of precipitation and used in public forecasts since the late 1960s), Joslyn and her colleagues tested more than 450 Pacific Northwest college students in a series of experiments.

The use of Pacific Northwesterners may have skewed the results, since they all presumed that it would always be raining every day of the week. Therefore, the numeric percentage would obviously have to represent something other than the chance of rain. Attempts to normalize results by polling villagers from Wadt Halfa, Sudan failed because they didn't understand what rain was.

The first experiment evaluated forecasts of either a low or a high percentage chance of precipitation accompanied by a series of icons, or "precipicons," that were visual representations of the chance of rain. The precipicons included the familiar cloud symbols used by many forecasting outlets, as well as pie charts and bar graphs.

According to Wikipedia, the Precipicons were a third faction of Transformers which could transform into various stages of the water cycle, led by Hailotron. Susan Joslyn noted that this faction was relatively unknown, which might have influenced the results. Students performed more strongly in a second experiment which used familiar Mega Man villains to represent weather patterns, but unfortunately those results could not be published because of a rights dispute with Dustin Hoffman.

In another experiment, the participants saw one of three forecasts: One had the typical chance of rain; the second had the chance of rain and the chance of no rain; and the third had a pie chart below the chance of rain.

In this experiment, only 22% of students correctly interpreted the forecast. 54% were utterly confused by the format of the test and expressed that they were angry at the researcher but didn't know why. The other 24% predicted that it was going to rain at the bakery.

Joslyn said that the research [...] shows the difficulty of making decisions where uncertainty is involved. People find it easier, she said, to simplify the situation to a single outcome: that it will definitely rain, but not for the whole day or the whole area.

Somewhere during the course of the study, the conclusion that "people are failing to interpret a symbol with a commonly accepted definition" morphed into "people are intentionally changing the meaning of a symbol because they don't like uncertainty". This is a patently false observation. If an escalator consumes your child because you thought the safety sign told him to play Dance Dance Revolution near the edges or the top, it's not the escalator's problem -- you are most likely a moron.

And understanding of how forecasts are interpreted could be useful to government officials who have to decide on school closings, road closures and other potentially expensive measures.

It is actually highly useful for the government to know that 48% of their citizens aren't so bright, because it makes the decisions quite easy. Close schools? Morons needs schooling, so no. Close roads? Morons can't drive, so yes. The possibilities are limitless.

Exotic dancer blitzed by stiletto
45-letter lake has spelling errors
Leaders cower from "shoe-cide" atacks

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Random Chart Day

He denied ever touching the shotgun
Season with ground black people
Dying man sells advertising space on his urn

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

List Day: 5 TV Shows Needed on DVD

Boston Public
I'm not taking about the later seasons featuring Verne Troyer hiding in a locker to help kids cheat on their tests -- I want the early seasons with the original cast: the actress playing a choir director who couldn't conduct, the principal who thought Shostakovich played hockey, and the "smell this shoe" parent. With all of the other shovelware out on DVD, how is this series still not available?

Malcolm in the Middle
While it's true that every child actor on this show hit puberty comically early after the first season, that didn't lessen my enjoyment of this show. I've watched the first season too many times, but the later seasons ran into music licensing issues with They Might Be Giants and will probably never see the light of day.

Quantum Leap
It doesn't count as "released" if each season is selling for exorbitant prices to milk fans. $40 for an 8-episode Season One? 2014 will be the 25th anniversary of this show, so maybe there'll be a Complete Box Set to commemorate the occasion.

The Wonder Years
There should be no argument about this one -- Fred Savage and Danica McKellar!

Home Improvement
I know this show's already out on DVD, but next month you can get the complete series in a TOOLBOX for $11 a season. That's my idea of a bargain.

What TV shows are you missing that haven't been immortalized on DVDs?

Language at risk of dying out
$14,000 spent on super hero capes
Chinese gifts catch Norwich leaders off guard

tagged as lists | permalink | 6 comments

Monday, April 21, 2014

Weekend Wrap-up in Food

  • Cornish game hen roasted in the toaster oven on Friday night, while starting the first season of Orphan Black.

  • Bagel and cream cheese over the morning paper on Saturday.

  • Grilled glazed salmon for the birthday of Rebecca's dad, followed by badminton.

  • 10 piece Chicken McNuggets meal on Saturday night, while Rebecca went in to DC for Marc's birthday.

  • Bagel and cream cheese on Sunday, before the Easter service at Riverside Chruch.

  • Gorgonzola cheese on crackers over four rounds of Hearthstone.

  • Marie Callendar chicken pot pie for lunch.

  • Foot-long cold cut combo from Subway for dinner, after a pleasant walk through Claude Moore Park. Deer count: 6.

What did you eat this weekend?

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Answers Day

The sequel to Questions Day

"Do you ever regret your career choice? If you could start another career, what would it be? For instance, I once had a job offer to sing in a nightclub after I auditioned at a radio station many years ago; I chose instead to work in IT for the US Government. I don't exactly regret my choice, but sometimes I think about the road not taken'." - Mom

I'm 100% satisfied with the career I ended up in. I'm good at what I do, and my job grants me the flexibility and stability to pursue any sorts of ridiculous enrichment projects I want in my spare time. My career also evolves at a manageable but continuous pace so there's always something new to learn. I knew in grad school that I would not have thrived in music academia, and have no regrets about dropping out of music school after the master's degree. Looking back even further to primary education dreams:

  • Artist: I'm colourblind! This was always a non-starter.
  • Archaeologist: Seems dirty, and there are no good dinosaurs left to discover.
  • Biotechnologist: I don't think I ever truly wanted to be this. I think my dad just kept saying it in hopes that I would subliminally do it.

"Will do a Review Day except with your friends? We are (mostly, I think) tough enough to withstand your grades and excoriating commentary." - Mike (and Ghost Chompy)

Mike:

  • CON: Makes typos like leaving the word "you" out of the first sentence in the question.
  • PRO: Composes normal music.
  • PRO: Makes the effort to keep in touch.
  • CON: Moved away.
  • PRO: Moved back.
  • CON: Chose to live in DC upon moving back.
  • PRO: Travels to the suburbs to hang out.
  • CON: Will probably move back to the West Coast and return to being a vegan hippie weirdo.
  • PRO: Tells funny stories like getting a bloody nose on OSHA day
  • CON: Utterly dismissive of anyone or anything he doesn't like
  • PRO: Embraces being the asshole in the group so you don't have to
  • PRO: Plays nerd boardgames and computer games.
  • CON: Never watches movies.
  • PRO: Stays in good shape and continues to self-improve.
  • CON: Is somehow able to flourish without a 9-to-5 job while you're at work.
  • PRO: Can probably recite the tax code for every state in the Union.
  • PRO: Has a blog.
  • CON: Stopped updating the blog.
  • PRO: Runs a coupon site full of wicked deals.
  • CON: Coupon site never has any deals for stuff I want.
  • PRO: Gave us an excuse to visit Chompy.
  • CON: Chompy is a ghost.

Final Grade: B+

People who liked Mike also liked Kathy, Alex, and Mark.

tagged as you speak | permalink | 7 comments

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Drinking from the Sun / Walking Under Stars Restrung by Hilltop Hoods:
This is a two album collection of Australian hip-hop resampled with orchestral arrangements. There's a wide variety and some are more successful than others. A few don't add anything new, while others introduce unnecessary harmonic changes like a high school composer who doesn't truly understand chord progressions. The good ones, though, give the songs a different perspective and soften the accompaniment enough to let the great lyrics surface a bit better.

Final Grade: B

Love, Season One:
Judd Apatow's latest production is a comedy-drama of broken or horrible people who might end up in a relationship. We only got through about 4 episodes before giving up on it. The plot doesn't move quickly enough to retain interest, and the Apatow formula of witty young people swearing is very tired now. It might have been edgy in 1997 when I was 17, but I've lived through my 20s now and I'm sure that none of my friends, even Kelley, ever swore as much as these people do. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: Not Graded

Mr. Robot, Season One:
This show featuring an unreliable narrator and hackers started out with great promise, but very quickly turned into a different kind of show with a muddy midsection, not unlike most french horn accompaniments in choral music. It's expertly shot for cinephiles, but goes off the rails with extended dream sequences and erratically driven characters. Don't believe the hype that's it's the next great show -- if you don't like it by episode 4, you won't like it much at all.

Final Grade: C-

Sadnecessary by Milky Chance:
This is an album of German pop songs, some of which are in radio rotation right now. The songs as a collective are pleasant, catchy, and good for background music, but the singers' voices might irritate your auricles almost immediately.

Final Grade: B-

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Friday, April 21, 2017

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Better Call Saul, Season Two:
I may be in the minority with my opinion, but this show is at its best when it's not focused on building the world of Breaking Bad. The little moments and wry asides stand alone very well, and it's almost a distraction when the main plots start to fall into the areas already established by Breaking Bad. It's held back a little by its very deliberate pacing -- it's easy to get impatient when I just want to know how it all comes together in the end, which reduces my appreciation for the development of the characters in the moment. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B+

Dave Chappelle:
I never watched Dave Chappelle back when he was originally popular, although I was oversaturated by my college roommate, Kelley, spamming "I'm Rick James, bitch!" at every opportunity. Chappelle's new Netflix special is 2 separate stand-up routines in a story-telling style focused mostly on race jokes. The first is quite strong, but he seems to get tired and run out of steam during the second one, which was mostly forgettable. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B

Lazy Fair by Bryce Vine:
This album is full of vapid summer pop songs with clearly calculated attributes for maximum radio appeal, but I still can't help but enjoy it. The EP is very short, but each song is an infectious up-tempo market-researched morsel, heavy on pentatonics and nostalgia like Sour Patch Kids. As a bonus, if you create a "Bryce Vine" Pandora station, you end up with a neverending stream of music about 20-somethings living irresponsibly, which you can use as a teaching moment for your college-age child. Free on Amazon Prime.

Final Grade: B+

The Night Manager:
This miniseries (based on a book I'd never read) tells the tale of a hotel manager who goes undercover to bring down a wealthy arms dealer. Well-paced with good intensity, the show features Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie in escalating cat-and-mouse affairs in a very British way. The arc of the story feels complete, and the 6 epsiode duration is just right. Free on Amazon Prime.

Final Grade: B+

tagged as reviews | permalink | 2 comments

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken on June 12, 1993 in the cafeteria at Hammond Junior High School.

I was a 9th grader and my sister was an 11th grader. We were free labour for my dad, who had been hired to take formal pictures at the Hammond 8th Grade Dance. This was just before Alexandria Public Schools switched from a 7 - 9 / 10 - 12 grade separation to a 6 - 8 / 9 / 10 - 12 separation. The 8th Grade Dance was a stopgap remedy to placate kids who felt that they were going to miss out on "graduating from junior high" by being the first class in 9th grade limbo.

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