This Day In History: 04/26

Saturday, April 26, 2003

It doesn't look so bad in the picture, but a tree fell on a car outside my building last night. I think the Spanish Moss is fighting back.

We had a TA grading party last night at a professor's house. The purpose was to grade the Sight Singing / Eartraining II final exams and the party came complete with food and vocal renditions of the latest pop hits by a four-year-old. Grading dictation would be much easier if it were multiple choice on Scantrons:

    Can you hear this note?
    • A) Yes
    • B) No
    How about this note?
    • A) Yes
    • B) No

My future plans (II of V):
I have a few programming side projects still on my list. It's anyone's guess as to when they'll finally be completed, but I'm definitely going to try.

Still in limbo since last summer is my Pattern Recognition package, that would search for melodic and harmonic patterns in melodies (which could be used to find motives or partwriting errors). I completed the groundwork for it at the end of last summer but I've mostly lost interest in it since then. This one's not high on my list.

I also need to release an updated version of my game, Augmented Fourth, which was originally released April 1, 2000. There's a few bugs, red herring, and annoyances that I could take out, but none of them were ever showstopping enough to warrant a full update. I meant to release it within six months of the original version, but since then I've forgotten most of the language that it was written in. It will still come out one of these days. Also, the original version will remain on the page as an applet on the Games page, for anyone who never beat it.

One project that I do still have interest in is an aural skills package to improve upon the currently available ones. I'd like to combine the best aspects of various packages like MacGamut and Practica Musica into an intuitive and useable package for undergraduates. I'm sure I could even make a few bucks off of this project if I brought it to fruition, especially if I named it Not Practica Musica. This is a major undertaking, and would probably take a couple years, but hey, it's not like I have homework anymore.

I also plan on learning some synonyms for the word "package".

Once I'm independently wealthy and can retire to my private tropical island paradise, I might even make a version of Finale that works in a logical and consistent manner. Alternately, I'll go on the circuit hiring myself out as a usability consultant -- earning massive amounts of money by telling people what doesn't work.

To be continued tomorrow...

Deliberately Distorting the Digital Mechanism
Do-it-yourselfers remake recent horror movie

By the way, I occasionally post stories from the New York Times. I don't have a login myself since I use a username that someone posted on a website long ago. If you want to read NY Times articles use username: cosmoran password: spider for all your reading needs.

tagged as random | permalink | 0 comments

Monday, April 26, 2004

Yesterday's notable search terms:

    nate shafroth, is there erosion at the urizone, the speaker finds that prediction and change are two different entities

That last search entry is a direct quotation from one of my twelfth-grade essays on Storm Warnings. Looks like some high school plagiarist just got caught by his/her teacher! Then again, the IP address of the visitor is from NYU. Pretty sad if you have to plagiarize a high school essay for a college assignment.

Teaching robots to herd cats
He said, 'I can't believe I got in another accident.' He was just going out to get a pizza.
He'd probably use his high-pitched voice to say, 'I saw Gina in bed', and he'd probably need a good therapy session.

permalink | 2 comments

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

While helping Anna pick out wedding music yesterday, we stumbled across a bizarre subculture in the music world. Take a well-known classical tune, like Pachelbel's Canon in D, and mix in ambient sound from the beach. What do you get? Pachelbel with Ocean Sounds of course!

Apparently catering to relaxing Zen yuppies is a huge market, as evidenced by the selection of albums available. I have yet to find a recording of Debussy's La Mer with Ocean Sounds, but I bet it's out there somewhere. Then again, this phenomenon could just be a new spin on really bad twentieth-century contemporary music, where Sonata for Contrabassoon and Piano by Philip Reich Cage really should have been called Piano Accompaniment with Contrabassoon Sounds.

A "strange thing in sandwich" lawsuit that finally rings true
High tech solution to highway congestion

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Capsule Review Day

LOST: TV Soundtrack by Michael Giacchino
Written by the guy who wrote the soundtrack to The Incredibles and Alias, there's nothing amazing or underwhelming about this CD -- it's just a solid television score in an age where it's just as easy to overdub a scene with a throwaway Blink 182 song. Giacchino must have done something right, because I could picture the images from Season One of the show in my head as the various songs and motives popped up. The ensemble is interesting too -- a studio orchestra, ten trombones, four harps, three guitars, and three percussionists, who spend most of the CD performing on custom instruments created from the wreckage of the crashed airplane from the pilot episode. Not a single trumpet in sight. Rating: A

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
This is the first book in the multiple-award-winning His Dark Materials trilogy. Part fantasy, part Crichton-technothriller, and part childrens' fable, the trilogy is a vague retelling of Milton's Paradise Lost. Pullman is quite the skilled writer and there's obvious care and attention to detail in every aspect of the world he created for this series. I actually read this book twice before continuing to the next one, because I wanted to make sure I didn't miss a single detail. Imaginative and worth a read. Rating: ****

The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman
Book Two immediately draws you in, turning the tale of Book I on its head with a simple understated foreward that's only two lines long. Pullman does a great job of deepening the story without letting it get out of control, and the story confirms the fact that this trilogy has an overall arc to it (unlike the show, 24, which uses its middle section to give everyone amnesia and STDs from mountain lions). This book wasn't as finely crafted as the first, but it was much more of a page-turner. Rating: ***

The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman
Let's say you were the next Jane Goodall, on the trail of the elusive Gherkin Monkey in the rain forest. You come across a steaming pile of monkey dookie on the forest floor and use your otherwise useless biology major to deduce that this poop does, in fact, come from the Gherkin Monkey. You trek into the wilderness for several months, often coming across more exciting signs of the monkey, from a tuft of hair caught on the bark of a tree to some of the monkey's underpants. After long hours spent getting closer to the monkey, you suddenly arrive at the end of your journey to find out that it wasn't a Gherkin Monkey after all, it was just an everyday opossum that was tragically misunderstood. That's the type of letdown I got from reading this conclusion to the trilogy -- I had high hopes for a rare artful work and ended up blinded by monkey spoor. It becomes clear from the start that Pullman has an anti-religion agenda, and throughout this long, tiresome book he lets his preaching get in the way of his storytelling. The book meanders through universes and vague philosophies, using coincidence to bring unrelated characters back together when they need to be, and losing the thrust of his original story under the weight of his anti-church sentiments, which aren't even coherent enough to write a thesis on. There are many imaginative stories told here, and the conclusion of Lyra and Will's story is emotional and touching, but it's hard to notice these tiny good things when you're wading through monkey dung. If you're like me though, you HAVE to read this book if you've read the first two books just to find out what happened. Rating: * 1/2

Derailed
This thriller starring Clive Owen and Jennifer Aniston was "okay". I have yet to like a movie with Clive Owen in it -- maybe I should start paying attention to that. As thrillers go, it's pretty easy to figure out the twist, and too much time is spent developing characters and back stories that could just as easily have been skimmed over. It also suffers from a dose of Melissa George, she who can't decide if she's blonde or brunette -- in this movie she can't decide if she's English or American. The film is about twenty minutes too long, and even has an ending after the ending which needlessly stretches the running time out by another fifteen minutes. Rating: Yawn

Bowling
Last weekend, I went bowling with Kim after dinner at the Capital City Brewing Company in Shirlington. It had been over four years since my last bowling outing (which was in Blacksburg when Kelley and Philip still lived together) and I'd forgotten how fun it was. I bowled a 149 in the first game, which was slightly above average for me, but then promptly dropped by thirty points in the second game after my luck had worn off. Now if only they could invent a fan that magically removes all the smoke from your clothing as you leave the alley it would be a perfect outing. All us'n Virginians should definitely do more bowling together. Rating: Set phasers to FUN!

Happy Birthday Noah Egge!

I'd rather have an antique watch
Chad Darnell on the end of Alias
Police release sketch of rape suspect, then advertise for a new artist

tagged as reviews | permalink | 4 comments

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Cat Media Thursday

Cat Pictures


Live from the set of Booty and Amber's new talk show, Cat Chat (Chat Chat when aired in France)

Amber has a hop-on

Amber gets high on catnip

Booty gets high on catnip

Booty keeps abreast of current events

Amber is precariously perched

Not-so-Cat Pictures


The new bathroom floor

Flowers in the backyard

Scene from the VT memorial

Cat Movies

Amber loves laminate flooring
Amber digs paper
Amber gets high

See More Pictures

Home Improvement
April Cats

Happy Birthday Noah Egge!

Horse makes deposit in bank foyer
Fast texter wins $25,000
Lamest technology mascots ever

tagged as cats, media | permalink | 7 comments

Monday, April 26, 2010

Weekend Wrap-up

On Friday evening, Anna & Ben (of Anna & Ben) came over for steaks and babies. We also played multiple games of Simpsons Clue, where I put my patented system for monitoring others' responses to work and won game #2.

On Saturday, while Rebecca was off at a birthday spa outing with her college friends, I released DDMSence v1.2.1, read and finished the next Orson Scott Card book, and then joined the birthday outing in Annandale for dinner at a 24-7 Korean BBQ restaurant. I had never had a particular craving for Korean BBQ, even during normal business hours, so I don't think I would fully appreciate the flexibility for 4 AM dumplings that they have built into the schedule. Dinner was followed with a trip to Cafe Muse, a coffee-shop-turned-speakeasy but with private Karaoke booths in the back, rather than moonshine. Judging from the foot traffic past our booth, Koreans really love their private Karaoke.

On Sunday, we wasted about seven hours watching 2012 and then went shopping at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, where we purchased a wedding shower gift, and did NOT purchase the "Filet-o-Fish Frankie Fish" singing fish for sale near the registers. After shopping, we returned home to wash the cars and eat a multitude of leftovers for dinner.

What did you do with your weekend?

Mo. clerk says he'll use $258M jackpot on bills
7-Eleven Launches Own, Private-Label Beer
No sexiness, we're Holy City cheerleaders

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

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Recital Day

Part I of IV

This Friday marks the 10th Anniversary of my undergraduate recital, and seeing as how my daily updates are starved for content more often than any given page of eHow.com, I thought I would spend the next few days doing an indulgent Behind-the-Scenes, Where-Are-They-Now, Blu-ray-Edition-With-Deleted-Scenes retrospective on the whole affair.

My recital was one of the few instances in life where I actually displayed qualities that could be mistaken for ambition, which is why I like to pull it out of the closet every few years and parade it around like a six-year-old son who just won a Halleys Comet trivia championship.

By the numbers, The URI! Recital involved 24 musicians, 3 stage hands, 9 original compositions, 15 minutes of the Arutunian concerto, 8 months of planning, 2.5 hours of performance (with two intermissions), a 17 page program and a budget of about $350. It also instilled in me the critical career skills which I still rely upon today, notably, the ability to use Photoshop for funny pictures, and the ability to buy gift certificates on Amazon.com (musicians work for cheap when they don't have a degree yet).

Although bits and pieces of the recital recordings have appeared on this site in the past, I'll be posting full-length MP3s of some of my favourite songs this week. The first one is Vanishing Point:

    Vanishing Point (4.3 MB MP3)

Featuring 3 trumpets, 3 horns, 3 trombones, 2 tubas, and 2 percussionists, my goal here was to treat a brass ensemble as a sectioned jazz ensemble and show that an unwieldy ensemble full of muddy brass instruments can swing surprisingly well. Here are a few other fragmented thoughts about this piece:

♠ The chord progression here is based on the song, Bernie's Tune.

♠ Philip Barbie performed the trumpet solos here, because I'm not a fan of improvisation and I knew he wouldn't do anything retarded.

♠ The decision to write a jazz piece for brass was actually very in line with my education: jazz was my go-to language for boring writing assignments, and when a composition professor would want me to compose another sonata or do something with more wrong notes, I would always fall back on jazz as a passive-aggressive way to bring the assignment back into the realm of "music people might actually want to listen to". I also have a three movement jazz sonata and a three movement jazz suite for brass quintets in my repertoire.

♠ The only reason there are two tubas is so that one can always be breathing. Walking bass lines require oxygen.

♠ Towards the middle of the piece, the original horn line (396KB MP3) required a lot more finger-flexing, and was rewritten the night before the performance to be less difficult. Even with the new line, a beat goes missing somewhere in the performance, and the drummer ends up on 1 and 3 for a few bars instead of 2 and 4.

♠ I didn't want a guitar mucking up the works, and the stage was too small to roll out the piano, so chord innards were provided by a vibraphone player. This gave it a unique sound, but still ended up a little too muddy for my liking.

♠ This was one of the pieces I conducted -- even though jazz ensembles generally don't need conducting, I was worried that the piece would just get slower and slower without me, and I would have to come out of the wings with a cowbell and start yelling, Chip McNeill style.

To be continued tomorrow...

Gang tattoo leads to murder conviction
Store owner forgets to tell computer the holiday schedule
Commuting impacts job security

tagged as memories, music, media | permalink | 3 comments

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (R):
On the surface, this movie sounded right up my alley -- spies, intrigue, mole hunts, and British accents. Unfortunately, it now holds a place of honor on the list of movies I've fallen asleep in (the other being Kill Bill Part 2). There's nothing inherently wrong with this movie. It's just a very slow burn without any reason to care about the conflict or resolution.

Final Grade: D

Jacked: The Outlaw Story of Grand Theft Auto by David Kushner:
I've never actually played a video game in the GTA series because I tend to get bored in sandbox games very quickly. However, I enjoyed Kushner's previous book, Masters of Doom about the history of Doom and Quake. The story of GTA just isn't as interesting as the story of Doom. The main protagonists are from the company that published the game, not the creators themselves, and trying to keep track of which company is being discussed at any given time is tedious, given the number of main characters that float in and out of various chapters. A subplot related to the crazy lawyer, Jack Thompson, was more interesting than the creation of the game.

Final Grade: D

The Muppets (PG):
I was never a huge follower of the Muppets, and I get annoyed anytime Jason Segel whips out a guitar and starts making up songs. It's a surprise, then, that I liked The Muppets as much as I did -- a pleasant way to spend an evening that won't necessarily change your life.

Final Grade: B

Better Off Ted, Season Two:
The second season of this show (free with Amazon Prime, but not available on DVD) was a great refinement of the original season. The dialogue and whimsical plots worked on multiple levels, and I laughed out loud at least once per episode. Yet another show that would have been great to renew, were it not incomprehensible to its parent network.

Final Grade: A

Postscript: Anonymous online comments make me laugh.

tagged as reviews | permalink | 3 comments

Friday, April 26, 2013

Five Fun Facts Friday

  1. If you mention the name of a big cable Internet company and their fiber competitor along with the word "switching" (like I did in Wednesday's post), your blog will get discovered by search spiders from deep within the belly of said cable company. Apparently, there are people whose job it is to stay abreast of all the bad things said about this company across the Internet. Definitely a job for more than 1 FTE.

  2. The light to turn left onto Baron Cameron from Town Center Parkway is a whopping two minutes long.

  3. Ralph Macchio, the original Karate Kid, is now older than Pat Morita (Mr. Miyagi) was when they filmed the original movie.

  4. Amber can only eat 17% of a can of wet food in one sitting without projectile vomiting everywhere.

  5. The Wire just happened for real in Baltimore.

tagged as lists | permalink | 1 comment

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Sparkour Day

It's now been almost two months since I released Sparkour, the open-source collection of programming recipes for Apache Spark. Unlike DDMSence, which remained a niche oddity for its whole six year lifespan, Sparkour began to get traffic from Google almost immediately. Publishing DDMSence was like cornering the market on ergonomic attachments for a pasta maker -- only 10 people actually own a pasta maker in the world, and only 2 of them care enough about repetitive pasta injuries to buy your product.

There have been 442 unique visits to Sparkour since it was released, from a mix of countries, not all of which you would expect to have a thriving data science scene:

More interesting than the location is the corporation. Besides the usual assortment of universities, I've gotten hits from sources as varied as DuPont, ESPN, NOAA, Capital One, Ancestry.com, and all manner of health insurance companies. All of these companies have too much customer data and need something like Apache Spark to crunch the numbers so they can figure out what you ate for breakfast.

Here are the most popular articles that people read:

As for intrinsic satisfaction, I'm still enjoying the Sparkour experience. Unlike DDMSence, where there was nothing left to implement after a while, I have a nice backlog of potential articles that interest me. It usually takes about 4 hours to experiment with the concepts and write the source code (I start in Python, then convert into R, Scala, and finally, Java) and then another 3 hours to write the recipe prose. All of this costs me $0.12 an hour for servers, which I then shut down afterwards. Any given recipe is a low time commitment and I can release early and often!

tagged as programming | permalink | 0 comments

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken 40 years ago in 1977.

My dad and my sister are sitting on the front stoop of the childhood home on Pickett Street, back when it was still festooned in overgrown shrubbery helpful only for concealing burglars. I will have to recreate this picture in 2018 if I can find some identical pants.

tagged as memories | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, April 26, 2019

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Sharp Objects:
This HBO limited miniseries is a great adaptation of the original book by Gillian Flynn. It captures the brooding, memory-heavy feel of the main character perfectly. It's pretty much a downer all the way through though. The show leaves the ending much more ambiguous than the book, which wrapped everything up tightly.

Final Grade: B

The Player's Ball: A Genius, a Con Man, and the Secret History of the Internet's Rise by David Kushner:
While I enjoyed Masters of Doom by Kushner, I got bored quickly with Jacked. This new release tells the tale of the ever-escalating feud between the founder of match.com and the purveyor of sex.com in the late nineties and early aughts. This would be an awesome long-form article in The Atlantic, but struggles as a book. The high points of the story are interesting, but there's not quite enough tale to fit the length of the book, and the final third is desperately padded with repetitive language and reminders of earlier events.

Final Grade: C+

Santa Clarita Diet, Season Two:
Season Two improves upon Season One in all regards, with fun guest stars and a tangle of subplots that all come together in the end. The "constant edge of doom" feeling gets a little tiresome but the dialogue are performances are fun. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B+

Kirkland Signature Soft & Chewy Granola Bars:
I switched to these Costco chocolate chip granola bars because the Quaker bars I had eaten since the 7th grade only came in bulk packs with 50% chocolate chip and 50% peanut butter. Reaching into that mystery box had a 50% chance of disappointing me (still a lower chance than watching a random episode of LOST, Season Three). The Kirkland bars taste great and somehow "fresher" than the Quaker bars but suffer from two flaws -- (1) the bars are so sticky that it's nearly impossible to extract from the wrapper without the bar falling apart and (2) they're so small that you need two to feel satisfied, so you spend more time dealing with sticky wrappers than eating and your fingers end up sticky as well.

Final Grade: B-

tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments

Monday, April 26, 2021

New Release Day

Here is Ian Miles Uri, born yesterday and weighing in at 7 pounds 7 ounces.

tagged as offspring | permalink | 4 comments

 

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