This Day In History: 05/27

Thursday, May 27, 2004

If you're a fan of my Warcraft III maps, I've released version 2.0 of Caravan Assault on the Games page. It features a variety of balance changes and improvements, including clearer instructions for new players. I'm currently working on a new map, Micro Frenzy, which should be released in about a week or so.

Not counting three years of internships, I've now worked at FGM for one consecutive year.

Mother wins overreacting award, child will end up being a spoiled brat
Could have been a bomb
Teen suicide over exam message

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Wedding Day

On Saturday afternoon, Emily and Matt were married at a church in Berryville out in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

After the ceremony, Matt was given the traditional warning from the Spellerberg clan, admonishing him to treat his new wife well, or "we'll chop your balls off with a sabre".

As usual, Ella was the center of attention, and danced even after some lady stepped on her bare foot with a high heel shoe.

As the youngest Spellerberg daughter, Becca got to face the usual assortment of "So when's your wedding?" questions. (Photo courtesy of my dad, who was hired to take far better pictures than the ones I took).

Matt's sister sang a song for the newlyweds, and the room was enthralled.

I don't remember which song the couple danced to, so let's just presume that it was Flo Rida's Low. Later, Matt and his mother danced to a trick song that kept pretending to end, only to burst out with another chorus.

The ring bearer and flower girl were also excellent dancers.

You can see more wedding photos here . Once I get copies of the official wedding shots, I'll post some of them as well.

$175 burger
Cash-Waving Craigslist Player's Fury: 'These Photos Are Mines'
Crocs vs. Sharks

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Memory Day: MV Auditions

For the last two years of my five-year Marching Virginians tour, I was one of two section leaders (with Pat Brown and Joanna Swift), which meant that I had the privilege of sitting in a hot room with the trumpet professor, Dr. Bachelder, listening to seventy or eighty trumpet players zealously murdering their sheet music and vying for one of the sixty-three available trumpet spots in the marching band.

We had all kinds enter the audition room, from eager freshmen who were first chair in their high schools because they could play "Let's Go Band!", to shy music majors who played the Dave Matthews excerpt with vibrato, to oldtimer day warriors who hadn't picked up their trumpet since the Bowl game the previous winter, and expected a guaranteed spot in the band because they were old, and sometimes wise.

Despite all protestations to the contrary, there actually were guaranteed slots for some -- since it's been proven that the collegiate tenure system is highly effective at motivating old professors to teach, we emulated it at the marching band level, secure in the knowledge that a trumpet player who sounds like ass in year 1 will blossom into a beautiful songbird in year 4. (We also saved spots for the hot girls and the rank captains' girlfriends).

The audition music I selected was the same both years -- a slow piece (Colors), a rhythmic piece (Caravan), and then a choice between a low, easy excerpt and a fast, high one which was very effective at proving that most of the players who picked it had no business playing the trumpet. The fast excerpt was taken from the marching band arrangement of that old John Tesh classic, Avalon, which we shamefully performed on the field one year with Yanni's Santorini. (The following year they finally realized that playing new age music in a marching band was retarded, and we spiced it up with the Macarena instead).

Trumpeters entered the auditions with all sorts of ready-made excuses. Were the proceedings to take place on Family Feud, the most popular excuses would be "I just got the music in the mail yesterday!", "I just had my wisdom teeth out!", and "I already know the 3rd Trumpet part so just put me there". One guy by the name of Harry put so little effort into his attempts that he was cut, after which his dad threatened to SUE the marching band.

Since I keep EVERYTHING that doesn't get flushed down the toilet, I still have copies of the audition forms from 1999 and 2000. Here are some of the actual comments on auditions from 2000:

  • Kevin Alexander: "Out of practice. It's very hard to tell anything about him"
  • Denise Aspell: "Needs work on rhythm and technique but could become good"
  • Gordon Dodson (Flip Flop): "Could be strong if he practiced"
  • Rick Dunham (Gold Medal): "Minor flubs but has a G range"
  • Jordan Elmiger: "Said 'I just got my braces off' at least 5 times"
  • Jason Hovell: "Not sure of himself but he could do it!"
  • Mike Jedrey: "Would be good if he put some valve oil on"
  • Ryan Jenkins: "No rhythm at all, but a strong player"
  • Megan LaVorgna: "Good tone. Shyest trumpeter ever"
  • Kristin McKeon: "Has a cheerful, decent sound"
  • Anish Prasai: "Put grace notes on everything. I think he thinks he's improvising"
  • Ryan Somero: "Funny kid"
  • Anna Spellerberg: "Fuzzy tone, needs to practice a little to get chops up"

NY toddler is a cue-ball wizard at pool table
Groom dies after drinking too much at wedding
Scott said Hicks did it "because he felt he could get away with it."

tagged as memories | permalink | 5 comments

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Review Day: LOST

There are no spoilers from the finale in this review, although I do mention details from earlier episodes.

In the end, the LOST finale was about as good as it could have been. The writers opted for moving the needle towards a "warm and fuzzy" satisfying ending, rather than some sort of Sopranos brain-freeze, but the ending they chose left far too many major questions unanswered in an attempt to give all the characters a happy send-off. The closing scenes, which tug at the heart strings during a first viewing, become increasing irritating as you start to think about how irrelevant earlier plot points become in their wake.

In my opinion as a highly paid television critic (and despite the fact that the highly paid part has nothing to do with the critic part), they committed to the wrong course for the story when the island started "flashing through time" last season. Everything from that point was a temporal mess, with too much time wasted on new characters and side trips into the past. I can't decide whether it's a worser sin to drag the story out (as they did in Season Three), or to spend whole episodes on side plots that just don't matter. A prime example of this was the "Jacob and his crazy mom" episode, which was 100% unnecessary backstory.

Not all of this is the fault of the writers though. One of the original draws of the show was the mystery surrounding each character. By the third season, we knew all of the characters inside and out, so the show had to reinvent itself a bit. I thoroughly enjoyed the fourth season, which was the first season showing the future, but spent the entire fifth season bored and waiting for Charlotte to get off the show.

I live blogged my satisfaction levels during the finale on Facebook, starting at 95% because I'm a very easy grader. I liked the LOST-themed Target commercials, and general sappiness. I didn't like "Sayid's true love", the fact that the heart of the island resembled a deleted scene from Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the fact that manipulating the heart of the island involved inserting or removing a giant stone penis from a hole in the ground, the overuse of the same melodies, the fact that everyone's "memories of love" started blending together into tedium by the end, and how retarded Leonardo DiCaprio's new movie looks. I thought it was cute that my local ABC affiliate tried to get into the LOST fever by advertising "feedback from LOST fans at 11!", not realizing that they had been preempted by the extra long LOST which ran to 11:30.

I ended at an 89% satisfaction level for the episode, but that would probably drop to an 80% after a few days to mull it over. In the end, I enjoyed the series as a whole, but felt it would have been greatly improved with about 1.5 fewer seasons of filler.

Final Grade for the finale: B
Final Grade for the series: B-

Unnecessary Censorship: LOST Edition
Flood of frogs shuts down major Greek highway
Sleeping woman left on plane for four hours

tagged as reviews | permalink | 2 comments

Friday, May 27, 2011

Peru Day

Rebecca says hi. I'm 30% sure this isn't a green screen. She might just be in Newport News at a bar.

China used prisoners for free gold farming
First cloned cat turns ten
Disney withdraws Seal Team Six bid

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

Monday, May 27, 2013

Tomato Day

They even grow on national holidays.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Weekend Wrap-up

Friday

  • Cleaned the house from top to mid-level and did laundry.
  • Took Rebecca to the airport for her trip to Columbus, OH, where she stayed with Elisa and Christopher the cat.
  • Ordered Dominos for dinner and watched the movie, Zodiac.

Saturday

  • Helped Katie and Joe move out of their third-story apartment.
  • Got a free French Dip at Ozzie's as a reward.
  • Ate leftover Dominos pizza and watched West Wing.

Sunday

  • Went out to my parents' house in Alexandria for an oil change.
  • Worked on the v2.3.0 release of DDMSence, featuring JSON output.
  • Ate leftover Dominos pizza and watched Ender's Game.

Memorial Day

  • Made a Safeway trip for Rebecca's weekly ration of healthy, spoilable junk.
  • Worked from home.
  • Played a hot game of ultimate frisbee in Vienna with the old frisbee gang.
  • Picked up Rebecca from the airport, resuming the non-bachelor lifestyle.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Memory Day: Twenty Years Ago Today

Twenty years ago today, on May 27, 1995, I was at a regatta somewhere in New Jersey for the National Championships. A high school junior at the time, I was the coxswain for the TC Williams Lightweight 8, which meant that I was responsible for herding 8 cats crippled by various eating disorders due to the rules surrounding maximum and average rower weights.

We had come in 3rd out of 4th in the qualifying heats the day before, which meant that we actually had race in the final round instead of sleeping the day away on the bus enjoying the time away from school. So, our day began with a bus to the weigh station at 5:30 AM, where our stroke failed the weigh-in by being HUGELY FAT (he was 146 pounds and the limit was 145). After a few circuits around the local park, he waded through the sea of worried lightweight girls spitting in cups to try again, and successfully passed this time.

We celebrated with breakfast at McDonald's.

Our final race kicked off at 12:40 in the afternoon, with Canisius, Woodbridge, Bonner, LaSalle, St. Joe's Prep, and TC in lanes 1 through 6 respectively. We came in fifth place, which was highly surprising given that our "cox box" stopped recording boat stats early on in the race. This was a crazy expensive piece of electronics that measured stroke rate and pressure, distance, and water temperature, and probably had a sonar add-on to measure water depth. When LCD display quietly flickered out 50 meters into the race, I did the only thing I could think of in a bind -- I simply made up my own numbers and speeds until the race was over five minutes later. I was converting meters and feet like a river-buoyant wizard, and it must have been close to accurate because none of the rowers noticed anything amiss after the fact.

At least by this point in my career, I was able to steer our boat (the Winifrede Beal Ottinger, colloquially known as the "Fred-e") in a straight line. Bonner was not so lucky, as their coxswain steered them into Woodbridge's lane, forcing Woodbridge to steer into Canisius' lane. After the race, Canisius protested Woodbridge and Woodbridge daisy-chained a protest over to Bonner. Owing to nepotism and intrigue (the judges were from Bonner's hometown of Philadelphia), Bonner's crooked course was deemed "not an issue" and Woodbridge was promptly disqualified from the race. This shuffled us up to fourth place while also having the side effect of allowing the 3 prep schools to walk away with the medals while the public school kids ended up with ribbons.

We spent the remainder of the day happy with our 4th place Nationals finish -- a direct antonym to the lightweight girls who also got fourth place but were incredibly pissed about it. I think we were just happy to be there, while they had just eliminated themselves from racing in Canada the following week.

Granted, they were probably a little bit hangry.

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Friday, May 27, 2016

Overwatch for Beginners, Part III: Harder Heroes

Part I | Part II | Part III

Tricky Heroes: These are intermediate heroes with slightly more complicated skillsets that take a little practice to use effectively.

  • D.Va: Like Winston, D.Va is a secondary tank, good for disrupting the enemy but not as good for protecting your team. The trickiest part of her kit is combining her mobility skill with her self-destruct ultimate to maximize damages. It's best to think of Self-Destruct as a way to clear the enemy out of a particular area, rather than something that will kill lots of enemies.

  • Hanzo: Hanzo appears to be a sniper, but is actually more useful at mid-range rather than far away. Take some time in the Practice Range to figure out how his arrows fly at different charge-ups and make sure you're denying the enemy from claiming an objective rather than just looking for easy kills.

  • Mei: Mei is my most-played character, simply because she's ridiculously annoying and you can employ ice-themed puns when you get the Play of the Game. Her skillset isn't very difficult but you need to maintain awareness of your team to ensure that your Ice Walls don't interfere with their skills. Although she's categorized as a Defense hero, you will be much more effective if you play as offensively as possible. In some cases, she's even a decent flanker, as her freezing skills will let her win a lot of 1 vs. 1 duels easily.

  • Roadhog: Roadhog's ability to hook enemies and drag them into melee range for a quick kill shot is the only thing that makes him scary -- otherwise he's just a really easy-to-hit fatty lumbering around the map. There is a chain of skills you can queue up sequentially (hook, shoot, melee) to maximize your kills, and you'll definitely want some time in the Practice Range to work on this combo as well as your hook accuracy.

  • Zarya: Zarya is a support tank that shields teammates and uses any attacks against them to charge up her laser cannon. Don't play her as a traditional tank -- instead, hang back slightly and focus on shielding until your cannon is charged up enough to be noticeably dangerous. Step back and let your shields recharge as often as possible. This approach will make her much more threatening.

  • Zenyatta: Zenyatta feels a little weak at the moment (he was much stronger in beta). He can heal a single player over time or debuff enemies, but is constrained by the need to maintain line-of-sight with whomever he's thrown his balls at. Definitely don't use him as a primary healer.

Advanced Heroes: These heroes (in my opinion) have the widest variability in effectiveness, depending on how good you are with them. An expert who can juggle their skills and understand how to apply them towards game objectives is deadly, but in a beginner's hands, your team might as well be down by 1 team member.

  • Genji: Genji fills the cliched ninja role and balances low survivability with high mobility. Because Genji is a flanker that sneaks around to disrupt the enemy's support and back line, it's difficult to tell whether the Genji on your team is doing his job effectively or is just dicking around uselessly. Focus on making high-value assassinations that support the objective.

  • Tracer: Tracer's ability to blink and rewind time by 3 seconds give her a surprisingly high survivability. Remembering where you were 3 seconds ago is a critical skill to practice, as is knowing how many blinks you need to keep in reserve to stay alive. Also, remember that you always blink in the direction you're traveling, which doesn't have to be forward.

  • Widowmaker: Everyone sees themselves as a badass sniper, so everyone will pick Widowmaker. The problem is that Widowmaker has no on-objective presence, and denying the objective will only get your team so far. The best Widowmakers have a steady string of kills, move around constantly, and push forward with their team rather than standing as far away as possible. Widowmaker is generally a bad idea to pick on the Attacking team, unless you really know what you're doing.

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Monday, May 27, 2019

Weekend Wrap-up

It's Memorial Day!

We spent our holiday weekend at home in a low-key way. On Friday, Maia and I met Rebecca at the yoga studio and then headed over to Cascades Overlook for dinner at the new Marumen Ramen restaurant. I ordered the "Hot Stone Pot" dish, which, in retrospect, was perfectly honest advertising since the food inside stayed too hot to eat for the entire visit. I'm indifferent about trying the place again (I feel like noodles can be done just as well at home) but it was nice that Maia could roll around in the astroturf like a golden retriever while we ate nearby.

On Saturday, I wanted to try something new on the grill, so I bought swordfish steaks with an Italian-esque marinade (and salmon as a backup). We invited Tammy over for dinner and since she wasn't a fan of seafood, she contributed a bucketload of steaks as well. Rebecca and Tammy made chocolate mojitos from the chocolate mint plant we now cultivate, and they turned out deliciously. I also grilled the swordfish perfectly, thanks to the new grill.

On Sunday I took the morning off while Rebecca and Maia went to church. In the evening, we went to the poorly-named Clemyjontri Park for the 5th birthday party of Rebecca's boss' son. In spite of the name, the park was a playground paradise and Maia enjoyed visiting every single apparatus for the next two and a half hours.

No big plans yet for Monday, although I will work as usual and Rebecca and Maia are headed to the pool. What are you up to wherever you are?

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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken 13 years ago, on May 26, 2007.

I was hosting a Memorial Day barbeque with the usual folks that also enjoyed a good poker game: Chris, Kathy, her brother, Jeff, Ben, Anna, Rosie, Jason, James, and Jack. Not pictured is Diana, who is off-camera holding a 7-week old Ella while Anna plays.

This party evidently took place before craft beer was a thing, as all there was to drink was Yuengling and Corona. Also, I came in first place for the first time ever!

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Friday, May 27, 2022

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Russian Doll, Season Two:
As big fans of Season One, we were hugely disappointed in Season Two. Natasha Lyonne is great as usual, but her character's motivations in the first half are poorly defined, leading the lessons learned by the end to be underwhelming. This would have been better as a one season limited series. On Netflix.

Final Grade: C-

Ronny Chieng: Speakeasy:
Ronny Chieng's latest special is a little lackluster. A few laugh out loud jokes are buried in medicore, uneven material. Fun enough to have on in the background, and would probably be fine as just audio. On Netflix.

Final Grade: C+

Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Season Two:
I abandoned this show after one season in 2014 but decided to give it another chance after watching Palm Springs. The second season is appreciably funnier than the first, although the weakest point is still watching Andy Samberg make faces at the camera like he's in an SNL skit. On Hulu.

Final Grade: B

After You by Jack Penate:
This album is eminently forgettable. I purchased the extended edition. After 10 minutes without any hooks, I looked at the playlist and realized I had started with the "Church Session" acoustic versions of all the songs. I then switched to the original album versions only to find that they were just as monochrome. The playful lyrics, catchy melodies, and bouncy rhythms from his first two albums are all absent.

Final Grade: C

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