This Day In History: 05/15

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Today is movie and photo day. Check out the new cat photos, the new BU photos, and see Booty fight another chair.

I finally got the home network set up a couple weeks ago. Now both of our computers and any computers plugged into the two free hub ports can access the Internet without a router and can game with each other and folks on the Internet.

Something scary in a box (10MB WMV)
Boot Fights a Chair II (1.6MB WMV)
Booty and the Screensaver (1.5MB WMV)

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Monday, May 15, 2006

Flexibility

Flexibility is what lets gymnasts do front walkovers and back handsprings, but this post has nothing to do with the Oscar-deserving gynmastics flick, Stick It (subtitled for foreign markets as An Excuse to Slowly Pan The Camera Over Teenage Ass in Leotards for Two Hours). I'm merely using the pictures to attract new readers. Since yesterday was Mother's Day, every other article in the Washington Post was arguing for increased flexibility for parents in the workforce. Growing up in a family full of U.S. government workers who had more leave time than there are days in the year, and working at a private tech company that provides this flexibility without a second thought really makes me take it for granted.

Here is a typical work day in my life: I get to work at six in the morning, give or take fifteen minutes depending on whether Booty was being particularly obnoxious to get breakfast or whether I put my trust in the Snooze button without realizing that I don't have a Snooze button. I eat a small lunch snack while I work, generally around 10:30, and continue working as the later shifts start rolling into the office. My work day is done at two, but often times (maybe three days out of the week) I'll just head out at noon or one. Sometimes I'll run some errands, get a real lunch, or ride a tractor through a herd of gymnasts in the wild before I head home for good, where I'll pick up my work where I left off for another hour or so. If I really don't feel like working, I'll do my own thing throughout the afternoon and then work for a couple hours in the evening after dinner. During weeks where I feel particularly slackassed, I'll take off the entire afternoon, and then make up the time over the weekend where I can work in peace with no one else around and crank the volume on my horrible tastes in music all the way up.

This system works for me because the company can trust that I'll get things done on time (and possibly even more efficiently than if I worked a 9-to-5 day) and knows that they can contact me by phone or e-mail even if I don't happen to be at my desk. And though I use that extra time during the day for my own selfish slacker purposes, I could just as easily be tending to those orphans I bought for pennies a day or picking up little Jimmy from preschool where he got mono from kissing all the girls on the playground. (He could also have gotten pregnant, depending on whether or not he was diagnosed at the Virginia Tech health clinic).

I'd have to say that flexibility is one of the major selling points of my job, even if I would normally consider other things like the salary or the challenge of the work. It's the same reason that I probably wouldn't take public transportation to work, even if there were a bus stop right in my living room: I like to have the empowerment to create my own schedule and not be tied down by things outside of my control. With a car, I can decide to pick up some Popeyes on the way home or purchase the new New Super Mario Brothers game at Best Buy after work.

And should I decide that I want to wear spandex and slowly rise out of a bathtub filled with ice cubes, well then that's my perogative too.

Wasting dogs on DVDs
$31,000 for free, if you can decompress it
It's really just a trick to keep bad music majors away from their instuments

tagged as random | permalink | 12 comments

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Museday Tuesday

stimulating the udder of creativity for maximum musical lactation

Tuesday is usually reserved for posts on whatever recent news story happens to require my insightful commentary. Recently though, I've noticed that topics with inherent hilarity, such as day labourers with sexually-transmitted diseases or suspected murderers with lambchops at Virginia Tech are becoming increasingly rare. For these tragically unmemorable Tuesdays, I will be introducing a new Day to the Day Stable: Museday, which will require me to compose brief excerpts within a strict set of guidelines. The rules for this venture:

  1. The composition can be for any instrumentation. It can have an actual score or be a pure synthesized realization that might not be possible to perform in the real world.
  2. It must not be longer than thirty seconds.
  3. It does not necessarily have to have a start, middle, and end -- it can just be a fragment of something grander.
  4. It must be composed in a single sitting, in thirty minutes or less. If time runs out, I post whatever I managed to finish, be it good, indifferent, or makeup on a corpse.
  5. The title of the piece must be an adverb from a random word generator, although this word doesn't necessarily have to be incorporated in the piece.

If any readers ever have the urge to participate, feel free to send me an image, MP3, or link to your masterpiece and I will add it to the post. You can include a hindsight commentary as well. Anything posted becomes fair game for readers to admire, critique, or poop on in the Comments section.

This Week's Title:
Sidelong: (adv.) toward the side; obliquely

My Composition (0:28 MP3)

My initial impression of "sidelong" was furtive and shifty, from a more comical viewpoint rather than a longing one. I started with the vamping clarinets which dictated that the piece be in 5/4, and then allowed Shifty the Beat Monster to remove a few notes here and there to obscure the beat. I wanted the flute lines towards the end to float over the mix in a sing-song manner. This took me the full thirty minutes to write, and I hate the ending.

What do you think of this new Day? Let me know!

Homophonic Hate Crimes: Hoe vs. Ho
Teen Hurt Whacking Bullets With Hammer
Sex offender on sex offender violence

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Memory Day: School Newsletters

Every month in elementary school, we would receive a copy of the school newsletter to take home to our parents. Contrary to popular impression, these newsletters were not safety pinned to our jackets -- we maintained the complete responsibility for delivery, which is probably why most elementary school parents were clueless. Every newsletter began with a pithy unreferenced quotation, teaching children that plagiarism is appropriate in all settings, and the body of the letter was typed in a fake cursive font. This was obviously a conspiracy to disenfranchise the first and second graders who had not yet learned how to SWOOP DOWN with their pencils.

The opening section contained tips for parents to help their kids become better citizens, written in a neutral and politically correct manner. Obviously, it's the parents' fault that their kids are late for ELEMENTARY school, but the school administration is not allowed to write "Come on, parents, get your asses in the minivans. Also, you don't need to put make-up on if you're still in a bathrobe." because someone would be offended. This method is still used today in my HOA newsletter, which always includes two politely worded requests to remove Christmas lights and to park somewhere other than your front lawn.

After the endless list of school activities and PTA meetings came the section with awards and accolades.

This was the year that I wrote the song about the Proud Beagle for the Reflections Contest about PROUD EXPERIENCES. Ruff yap yap! I don't remember what I submitted in the other categories, but it's obvious that I was trying to be the Little Man Tate of Renaissance Men.

If you were not lucky enough to have a parent that forced you to enter a bunch of contests, your name would likely appear in the final section, which might be called "The Shout-Outs" if written today.

I'm glad Katrice (in Mrs. Sharkey's fourth grade class) finally got good at cursive -- it only took two and a half years1. Also, Tai has a lot of friends.

1: Longtime readers will call me a hypocrite but I contend that my poor cursive grades were caused by my messy lettering and not a lack of cursive comprehension.

Squirrel for dinner
Have a breadhead
World's biggest bullock

tagged as memories | permalink | 3 comments

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday Fragments

breaking two drought-ridden weeks of defragmentation

♠ I'm feeling better now, having subsisted solely on ibuprofen and Nyquil for the past week, instead of the wussy antibiotics I surrendered to the last time I was laid low by major illness.

♠ There was actually a very slight chance that it could have been swine flu, since I work with a DBA who spent last week on a military base five miles from the Arizona-Mexico border. This is the same guy who also lived in my basement in 2004.

♠ I never did take Jim Barry's idea to turn my basement into an extended stay residency location for needy composers. I guess I like my leases to end eventually. Zing! Although honestly, the music performers are struggling just as much as the music composers right now.

♠ My idea to solve this famine is to initiate an infinite loop (because infinite loops are the solution to any devious software engineering problem). Simply have all the composers pay all the trumpet players to play their music, and have all the trumpet players pay the composers for the chance to play the latest and greatest sonata that can only be described as a cross between the Halsey Stevens and the Peeters with hints of Hindemith (I think I had ice cream in Collioure, France that tasted like that, mostly because of the liberal dousing of Grand Marnier).

♠ The Halsey Stevens sonata is constantly shifting between meters like a DC cabbie with multiple personalities. I performed it with the accompanist from hell, whose last name starts with an S and rhymes with "Padowski". She scribbled out any notes that ended a tie because they kept confusing her, rendering my $15 score about as useful as Roomba in a fishtank or the traffic light they're installing on Beech Road. Also, I'm allowed to have $15 scores because I'm a musician -- everyone else needs to find a higher class of prostitute.

♠ This accompanist was the same one who cancelled on me minutes before a Convocation performance, and then forgot to show up for the rescheduled performance the following week at the same time. I looked her up online and she's now a music teacher in Arlington. It's like everyone but Paige gives music educators a bad name.

♠ I haven't heard from Paige in weeks and her blog has fallen off the Bloglog, so I'm presuming that her baby ate her.

♠ "The Babiator" would be a great name for a superhero whose superpower was masterful use of the reproductive system. I'm guessing her Kryptonite would be condoms and practical sex education classes, but she could shoot babies at her enemies like giant cognitive watermelon seeds.

♠ This weekend is shaping up quite well. On Saturday night, we're going to celebrate the fact that Mike (of Mike and Chompy) will be moving to Massachusetts to teach ear training to wicked Bostoners. Then on Sunday, Rebecca and I will be taking a trip to Solomon's Island, Maryland, where we'll take a break from job stress and swine flu to stay at a Bed & Breakfast, dig for shark's teeth in Calvert Cliffs, and learn how to speak Marylander. We won't be back until Monday afternoon, so there will be no new posts until Tuesday.

♠ I've missed writing things for all you clowns -- thanks so much for staying patient and visiting daily in spite of all the boring Just Plain Days, which should really just be relegated to bagel flavours and the Midwest. Have a great weekend! I will.

Headless chicken feted in Fruita
Only modest mannequins allowed
Cash flies out of convertible

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Composing Spotlight: Round-the-Clock Blues

Round-the-Clock Blues was my last composition from the high school era, before I went off to college for formal training to write seriously serious music with themes and other garbage. I got the title from a dictionary of cliches, which is common for most blues charts but which doesn't reach the creative heights of Stan Kenton's Blues in Asia Minor. This was the longest composition to date, clocking in over six minutes in length and taking two and a half months to write.

    Listen (6:21 MP3)

As previously mentioned, I learned jazz harmonies by requesting sample tapes and scores from sellers of jazz sheet music. Kendor Jazz was especially bountiful in this regards, often providing complete miniature scores for twenty songs per year. From the sound of this chart, I was still awed that you could stick a major 9th into a minor 7th chord and not impact its character. This chart also contains my first attempt at a contrapuntal ensemble section (3:59 - 4:49), inspired by similar sections from arrangements by the Tonight Show Band.

I was a fairly weak improviser in high school. For the two solo sections in the realized MIDI, I recorded myself improvising over the changes over many, many takes, and then cherry-picked the least offensive lines to transcribe.

After this piece, it would be another three years before I returned to a pure jazz chart, because budding composers aren't supposed to write music with consonant harmonies.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken in 1983. I suspect that my expression was caused by my suspicion about the reality of the porthole in front of me.

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Veep, Season One:
This HBO comedy starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Tony Hale is fun and has some laugh-out-loud moments, but it's ultimately pretty vapid. There's less overarching plot and more setups for situational humour. The first season is only eight 30 minute episodes, so it's over pretty quickly.

Final Grade: C+

Sheezus by Lily Allen:
It's been awhile since Lily Allen's last album, and this new one turned out pretty well without trying to be too big or too bold. The songs are cleanly and minimally orchestrated, with the expected mix of pop and hip-hop influences. There's a little too much autotune and one song that's too repetitive, but otherwise, I'm enjoying it.

Final Grade: B+

Lights Out by Ingrid Michaelson:
Like snakeheads in the Potomac, Ingrid's fourth album, Human Again, was devoid of hooks. Lights Out takes a few steps back from selling out to Starbucks and has a good number of fun, catchy tunes to keep things interesting. Ingrid's newest device, though, is to forgo lyrics in favour of Ooooohs and Woooos, which can get a little tiresome. As Rebecca says, "There's a lot of ghosts in this band."

Final Grade: B-

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Friday, May 15, 2015

Moth Revisited

Here's a live action video of the four cats chasing a moth in 2005. This Sundance candidate is less about the action surrounding the moth, which might as well be a MacGuffin that exposes the poignant character development of Sydney, who was crazy, Booty, who was skinny, Amber, who could rotate her head 180 degrees like an exorcised cat, and Kitty, who was unimpressed. Also check out the awesome linoleum floors and apple-themed kitchen.

Happy Friday!

tagged as cats | permalink | 2 comments

Monday, May 15, 2017

Weekend Wrap-up

This weekend we went down to Fredericksburg to see our satellite friends. We spent Saturday evening with the Hickses and their seven social cats, and then went to Anna's second daughter, Rosie's, First Communion. The afterparty was a cornucopia of old faces, with 80% of the Spellerberg sisters reporting in (4 sisters = 13 kids minimum, plus the kids and dogs of family and friends).

After a dull 2 hour trip back north full of standstill traffic, we reintroverted with our quiet cats and lack of children and prepared for the week to come by doing laundry and making lunches.

How was your weekend?

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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

15th Work Anniversary Swag Day

I reached 15 years at my company last month (adjusted slightly for the 11 months I spent in the zany world of software startups) and was awarded with several thousand "points" to spend on an online Awards website. The website was clearly from the Web 2.0 years since its primary interface was Flash-based and the "mobile" version consisted of HTML tables showing 6 pieces of swag at a time. This was actually a huge limitation since there were multiple categories of prizes and way too many pieces of diamond jewelry to wade through.

Several thousand points was actually very generous of my company -- even after signing up for the big ticket items, I still had over half of my points left over. It got to the point where I was just buying extra things to use up points:

  • A Weber Genesis II E310 LP Gas Grill ($800)
  • Another Oculus Rift + Touch VR System for regifting ($400)
  • Samsung Galaxy S8 64 GB ($390)
  • Canon PowerShot SX620 HS ($230)
  • Samsung Soundbar+ ($170)
  • Traveler's Club 3 Piece Luggage Set ($35)
  • Black and Decker 16" Electric Hedge Trimmer ($30)

Packages arrived like clockwork for the next several days. Other than the built-in annoyances of transitioning from old technologies to new ones (assembling the grill took equally as long as transferring my phone number to a new unlocked phone), it's nice to be a little more modernized without spending any of my own money!

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Friday, May 15, 2020

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

The Expanse, Season Two:
I gave the first season of this sci-fi show a C-, labelling it a slog with forgettable characters. The second season is a major improvement (one that I only watched because there was nothing else in my queue at that moment). The plot moves steadily and weaves disparate storylines and characters together to a nice finale, in spite of the fact that the main protagonist has a punchable face. Free on Amazon Prime.

Final Grade: B

The Click by AJR:
This is a fun pop album, full of catchy hooks and interesting samples. Burn The House Down is a good representative track.

Final Grade: B+

Bosch, Season Six:
Six seasons in, Bosch has perfected the art of juggling five or six storylines without collapsing in chaos. This season is much better than Season Five because the main characters are more often in the same scenes together. I appreciate the slow and steady cinematography much more than I used to -- although that may just be quarantine talking. Free on Amazon Prime.

Final Grade: B

Parks and Recreation, Quarantine Episode:
The Parks and Rec cast gathered to create a Reunion Special and it was exactly what it needed to be. The use of a Gryzzl Video Chat to connect actors all stuck at home during quarantine was a clever way to put together a show without much of an overarching plot, but this is really just a way to get some favourite characters back together again and remind us how good the show was.

Final Grade: A

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