This Day In History: 08/08

Wednesday, August 08, 2001

The new battle report is now complete, so head on over to www.battlereports.com if that's your thing. I'll wait for a couple weeks before posting it here, so as not to steal their thunder.

Now comes the week full of everything that I should have been doing all summer but didn't. I've got several hours of music diagnostic exams to study for (PMO), I need to get back into trumpet-playing mode, and I need to finish my commissioned arrangement of Irish Washerwoman for Blue Ribbon Brass.

And I need to go the beach.

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Monday, August 08, 2005

There have been further developments in last year's accidental death of a summer Crew coach in Alexandria (You can read my original thoughts here ). The parents of the crew coach have sued the Alexandria Crew Boosters organization for wrongful death, seeking both compensatory and punitive damages (including the projected income for the coach, who was planning on becoming a surgeon after college) .

One facet of our society which I'm not too keen on is the blame game. Whenever something goes wrong, fingers and accusations fly in gnat swarms and someone always ends up being the scapegoat, deserved or not, of the problem. A much healthier solution would be to accept that the dastardly event happened, recognize what caused it, and fix it for the future.

I'm sure grief is an incredibly powerful motivator, and perhaps my feelings would be completely reversed were I the parent who lost his son, or if I knew him personally. Without that firsthand experience though, I believe that this lawsuit will not do anyone any good. A large cash sum will NOT bring anyone back to life. Bankrupting a parent-run sports organization will NOT improve boat safety -- this is not some multinational company tacitly dumping toxic waste on playgrounds, it's a group of parents who love the sport of rowing almost as much as their kids in the program.

This was no more and no less than a tragic accident. No one is totally to blame and no one is totally free from it. For every argument stating that the Crew program should have forced their coaches to wear life jackets, there is the counterargument that all the coaches do wear life jackets by choice, and that anyone with more than a couple months of experience under their belt should know better than to hop in a launch without one. For every news story reporting that the Crew program illegally disabled the kill switch on the motor, there is the suggestive thought that a kill switch would have had little bearing on this specific case.

If the people involved are seriously interested in preventing the accident from happening in the future, then the work has already been done -- I'm sure the next few years of Crew members and coaches will be acutely aware of the hazards of the water and more likely to take the appropriate precautions, solely because of word of mouth. Adding litigation to the mix and painting the Crew program as a willfully negligent demon just cheapens the lessons learned, and will have a negative impact on everyone involved for years to come.

If you are a former or present Crew member, I would be interested in hearing your civil thoughts -- please leave a comment. You are also welcome to point any of your rower friends here via this link: .

If you have no interest in Crew, the daily flippancy will return tomorrow. You can visit Florida-Mike's ChompBlog in the meantime, since it just reopened with a brand new look. Here are today's news links:

Prisoners rewarded for not escaping into the maw of a tsunami
"I got 1,000 years of power. Come and get me."
I wasn't a racist, I was an Internet troll

Yesterday's search terms:
shirts making fun of clemson, starcraft medic nude, stamen stains on shirt, adult video bailey's crossroad, tom cruise outer banks, herndon reston merchandise parrots


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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

How-To Day: Composing a Baby Announcement

To: Everyone@Work.com

Baby announcements shouldn't just go to the people who work directly with the new mother and father -- the entire company deserves to hear about the inner workings of the womb. This is why e-mail is the new mode of choice for publishing what came out of your body today.

From: NotTheMomma

If you are the parents, you probably won't have enough time or energy to announce the birth to everyone, so you'll have to hire one of your work friends as a town crier of sorts. The parents' job will be to present the baby in person once it's several months old so all the socially awkward people in your company can make banal smalltalk about their own baby experiences.

Subject: Welcome Baby LastName!

The tone of the subject should be slightly threatening, as if everyone in their right mind had better be welcoming of the new kid on the block OR ELSE. Don't actually give the name of the new baby in the subject -- that should be saved for the body of the e-mail. Otherwise it'd be like seeing Jaws in the first thirty minutes of the movie.

Loquisha Aaron Arnolds entered the world at 11:17 PM on Sunday, September 3, 2006.

The name of the baby should be the first thing in the body of the e-mail, because honestly, all people care about is seeing what kind of high-school-age-scarring you've affixed to your offspring. No one really cares about the time of birth, but it's customary to put it in. It might get you a few comments at work sharing experiences (i.e. "I was on the pot straining at the stool at 11:17! It's a good omen").

She weighed 9 pounds 8 ounces.

Your baby is not a trout and no one will be cooking it up for dinner. However, there is an unspoken contest to see who can have the most massive baby, so your e-mail announcement will be compared to all other announcements in the mail archives. No one really cares about these numbers unless they are unusually extreme. For a good time, lie about the weight and picture everyone in the company wincing when they visualize a tiny mother popping out a sixteen pound baby.

Mother, father, and daughter are all doing fine.

This is an obligatory line, to reassure readers that the mother had no complications and the father didn't slip on a janitor's wet mop in the hospital hallway. Even if something went horribly wrong, you need to include this line to prevent questions. If something weren't fine, would you really mention it?

Judge tosses suit by tiger man
Parrots name their kids
Cops quickly find stolen doughnut truck

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Street Names Day

After a hiatus of approximately nine years, I started biking again, taking evening jaunts around my sidewalkless neighbourhood after the temperature and the traffic have cooled off. With each trip, I'm rediscovering why biking is so much better than the other exercises I might deign to stoop to (and muscles I'd forgotten existed).

Biking is better than running, because when you run somewhere, you generally have to run back (unless you have inadvertently circumnavigated the globe). Stopping while running doesn't get you any closer to your goal, but you can coast occasionally on a bike. Stationary biking is nice because after you've biked a mile, you get up and you're still in your living room, eliminating the need for a return trip. However, the scenery is more boring than a Robert Altman movie unless you watch TV or read a book, and I tend to slow or stop cycling as I get more distracted by a show.

The past two nights, I started exploring the little clusters of subdivisions around my house, ones which (until now) I've only driven past on the way home from Popeyes. The naming conventions for roads are quite complex: east-west roads are named after bushes and trees, unless they also curve north-south, in which case they're named after Presidents. North-south streets are all Presidents, except for courts, which are assigned silly gender-neutral names as if someone on the naming board was one of those yuppy parents that named their kid, Throck or Teegan.

The only exceptions to these rules are in the northeastern corner of the neighbourhood, where there was obviously a dearth of acceptable trees, Presidents, and random mixes of consonants and vowels. Here, the streets are just given girls' names -- probably all the girls the head of the Street Board slept with in college. I hear Sue Ann and Lisa Gaye were pretty hot (but I'm not sure I want to know the story behind Gary and Jonathan).

Despite having sections with less than 50 yards of open fields between my neighbourhood and the town of Herndon, there are no through streets in the area I bike -- a measure surely intended to keep out all the illegal immigrants who couldn't possibly cross this vast expanse of undeveloped meadow to the promised land. Over there, where the property taxes are roughly four times my annual income, the streets are given names like "Powells Tavern" and "Josephines Bordello" so they evoke the quaint eighteenth century spirit of Olde Herndone.

It was much easier living in Alexandria, where every street was named after a failed Confederate soldier and every stop sign looked like a Confederate flag (but without the blue stripes and white stars).

FBI stops weeding out the applicants
Giant floating condom promotes safe sex
Giant Lego Man found in the sea

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Friday, August 08, 2008

Friday Fragments

official fragments column of the 2008 Summer Olympics

♠ Being the 8th of August, today is a mildly awesome day, because 8/8/08 is like having four 222s, and everyone knows that quads beat a three of a kind.

♠ In last week's impromptu midweek poker game, quads never showed up for me (except when I stood up in a muscular fashion). The game was won handily by Dissertation-Kathy, with Florida-Mike and Theory-Chris as runner-ups. The fact that we played with the oddball Florida rules is suspect, since all three winners had played with them before.

♠ The first rule had us deal all the chips out of the box. There were so many on the table that we might as well have been playing with horribly inflated Sri Lankan rupees. Blinds also went up at set time intervals, which eliminated any opportunities for dicking around. In Virginia rules, 55% of strategy involves dicking around.

♠ After writing the previous fragment, I got curious about the etymology of the phrase "dicking around". It wasn't in the Dic(k)tionary, so Google sent me to the entry for Dick in the Wiktionary (which may have also been a slang phrase from a 90s rap song). Apparently "dick" is also used in relation to Cumbrian sheep counting -- how apropos.

♠ The above site gets points for asking the reader to go see "WikiSaurus:penis" (which probably involves renting Jurassic Park on DVD), and almost got points for having audio samples of people pronouncing the word, but they're all in OGG format. I presume this means that a caveman named Ogg is narrating, which kind of defeats the purpose of having a crisp pronunciation guide -- everyone knows that cavemen "suck dick" at dic(k)tion. Incidentally, I haven't used this many parenthetical Ks since the last time I wrote about my retirement plan.

♠ I actually know what the OGG format is, but I'm one of those fossils that still keeps all his music in 128kb MP3 format and, as such, don't have an OGG Player. There are people that will argue that 256kb offers much better sound quality, but I don't really mind the difference. Plus I find it inconceivable that Gwen Stefani is allotted over 8 megabytes to spell the word BANANA. And in some cases (notably student recitals), degrading the quality of the MP3 actually covers up the worst of the performance blemishes. Other recitals are so horrible that you couldn't cover them up with a lifesize map of the world.

♠ There are no big plans for the coming weekend -- a little bit of certification studying and some lawn mowing are likely. I might also go biking on Sunday if the spirit moves me. The Olympics are starting today so maybe I'll also take some time to watch the figure skating beach volleyball.

♠ I'm not exactly sure what distinguishes Olympic beach volleyball from regular volleyball other than the uniforms. I would like to see other forms added to the Olympics, such as swamp volleyball, liquid hot magma volleyball, and valley volleyball.

♠ Have a great weekend!

Lusty badger sparks police hunt
Greyhound scraps ads after bus beheading
PETA dares the Beef Queen to wrestle the Lettuce Lady

tagged as fragments | permalink | 10 comments

Monday, August 08, 2011

Winner Day

Congratulations to Mike (of Mike and Chompy) for winning the 15th Birthday $15 Gift Certificate contest! It was a very competitive race, with each entrant assigned a number (with 9 being the "donate it to charity slice", where charity is my nickname).

Mike can use this unexpected windfall to buy a book on why the East Coast is better than the West Coast, in advance of his upcoming move to Los Angeles, the city with the worst airport in the nation (and the only city with worse traffic than the D.C. area). Then after he's been convinced, he can sell the book back on the Amazon Marketplace and walk away with a tidy $5 profit.

I'm back to work today, in outfits involving undershirts, and tonight we have the first game of our Double-Elimination Volleyball Playoffs. We are 8th Seed out of 8, which almost makes me doubt the usefulness of driving all the way to Fair Lakes in rush hour to play. I'd probably settle for a Participation certificate at this point.

Mystery roadkill prompts DNR investigation
Abused baby boobies grow up to be abusers
AF Pulls 'Jesus Loves Nukes' Training

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Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Memory Day: Eighteen Years Ago Today

August 8, 1994 was a Monday, and the second day of Penn State Science and Energy Camp, which was held at Boy Scout Camp Goshen. By now, I was already an Eagle Scout and had no further need of merit badges, but this camp allowed me to earn five more badges whose requirements were too annoying to do on my own. There are three approaches to earning a merit badge in Boy Scouts:

  1. Buy the merit badge requirements pamphlet, find a registered counselor in your home town, and fulfill all of the requirements.
  2. Get your uncle who owns a farm to register as the "Rabbit Raising" counselor and earn the merit badge by spending the summer on his farm.
  3. Go to a week-long Boy Scout camp and earn the badge by showing up to daily hour-long sessions.

The badges offered at this camp were too boring to earn through method #1 and impossible to earn through method #2 without a physicist in the family. This made the cost-benefit of method #3 very strong, because there is no better way to learn about Atomic Energy, Chemistry, Energy, Electricity, and Space Exploration than at an outdoor camp with no hot water and minimal electricity. As an example, in order to earn my Space Exploration merit badge, I had to assemble a model rocket, paint it, and launch it on the final day.

I attended this camp with two other scouts from my troop, Chris Anderson and Tom Campbell. We arrived on Sunday evening and were placed in a campsite with seven other scouts, according to old journals: Mike B (a strong, little black kid), Randy (a big guy who was kind of stupid), Steven (a short little nerd who got on everyone's nerves and shared a tent with Randy, who nearly beat him up a few times), James (a guy on the Robinson crew team), Mike T (evidently unremarkable since I didn't write anything about him), and finally, David and Ian, two older scouts that were paid $75 for the week to keep an eye on us. There were 43 scouts spread across 4 campsites in search of the "easy A", including a 250-pound guy named Serena (who asked us to call him Sir instead) and a guy who was an exact lookalike for Screech, from Saved By The Bell, who we obviously called Screech.

Monday was the first day of classes and we quickly realized that the sessions were going to be ridiculously boring, consisting of old VHS movies, reading assignments, and minimal (outdoor) lab activities. By the end of the day, we had so much pent up energy that we all met up in the nature area (a seemingly irrelevant name to assign to a clearing when you're in the woods) to play a game of "Manhunt". The game had barely been going on for five minutes when someone leaned against a wooden flagpole and it fell on Ian. The camp director kicked us out moments later.

As punishment for the falling flagpole, we had to do aimless tasks to clean up the nature area, like digging holes to fill them in again, or piling up sticks and then returning them to the foliage. Later, the camp director yelled at us for breaking a tree in our campsite, even though the tree had always been broken. This is when we all earned our Recidivism merit badge.

In fact, I barely wrote a thing about the merit badge classes once they got started. I passed all of the quizzes on Friday and won an "Outstanding Energy Guy" award which gave me a patch, a shirt, and a hat. I spent the rest of the time loaning books to Ian to keep him distracted from burning all of my matches.

Money well spent!

tagged as memories | permalink | 1 comment

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Side Effects (R):
This was an interesting story, which started out as a look at how pervasive pharmaceutical drugs are, and turned into a different type of movie altogether by the halfway point. It takes a little while to get rolling, but the slow burn is worthwhile. Not life-changing, but enjoyable if you're in need of movie night fare.

Final Grade: B

Deleted Scenes from the Cutting Room Floor by Caro Emerald:
Pandora only recently started playing tracks from this album on my stations -- otherwise, I probably would have discovered it long ago. Caro Emerald is a Dutch jazz singer who fuses jazz vocals over a variety of different styles, and each song is as strong as the one that precedes it. Among my favorites are Back It Up, and A Night Like This.

Final Grade: A

House of Cards, Season One:
This Netflix original series (a remake of a British miniseries) stars Kevin Spacey as a senator who feels slighted and passed over, and spends the rest of his term plotting and backstabbing his way to the top. The series starts strong, drags a bit in the middle, and wraps up nicely. Your enjoyment of the series will be strongly influenced by how much you might enjoy Kevin Spacey chewing on the scenery and breaking the fourth wall to trade barbed, sarcastic words of wisdom with the audience. It was also nice to see that Mahershalalhashbaz Ali has gotten new work since his role on The 4400 where he shouted "Isabelle!" and chased after his daughter like a parallel universe version of Michael and Walt from LOST. He's shortened his name to Mahershala Ali, much to the relief of the guy editing the credits screens.

Final Grade: B+

Arrested Development, Season Four:
As much as I loved the original run of Arrested Development, there were a ton of flaws with this new Netflix-driven season.

  • Filming constraints kept most of the cast apart, resulting in a "one episode per character" format. However, most of the characters aren't interesting enough to support a whole episode, and only really shine when they can play off of the others.
  • All of the stories overlap and take place in the same temporal space, which supposedly means that future viewings will result in "AHA!" moments of increased hilarity, but all it does is muddle the storytelling. I suspect that if I were to rewatch with knowledge of the whole season, the stories might feel more fleshed out, but definitely not funnier.
  • Each episode felt full of deleted scenes, since there is no arbitrary cap on episode length for online shows. Some jokes are strung out far too long just because the time was available. Less is more. Everyone needs a good editor, even Mahler.
  • The show relied a lot more on Hollywood in-jokes that I'm not privy to, not unlike that season of The Guild that relied on nothing but gaming convention humor.
The bottom line is that there are still plenty of funny moments (and the Gob episodes are the definite high point), but it's far from perfect.

Final Grade: C

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Friday, August 08, 2014

Recipe Day: Meatless Grilling

With an overabundance of foods from our garden and the local Farmer's Market about to spoil, we had our first ever grilled dinner with zero meats. Here is an incredibly easy set of recipes you can use to grill pretty much anything you have laying around the kitchen (that was already edible to begin with).

Grilled Tomatoes:
Cut tomatoes in half horizontally and jam your pinky into all of the water-filled cavities ilke you're going for that deep, deep nose booger. Tap tomato halves against the cutting board to shake remaining juices out, then season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Grill over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes per side, starting with flat side down. Add shredded cheese in the last couple minutes if desired.

Grilled Peppers:
Cut peppers into strips that are wide enough to act as a raft for a mouse, to ensure that they can easily be turned without falling into the grill. Rub both sides with olive oil and then season with salt and pepper. Grill over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes per side.

Grilled Portabello Mushrooms:
Wash mushrooms and scoop out as much of the black gill grossness as you can with a shallow spoon. Marinate in a freezer bag with a small amount of olive oil, 1/2 tablespoon of soy sauce, and 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic. Keep the marinade in the fridge for a few hours, shaking flipping periodically. Grill over medium-high heat for 5 minutes per side.

With the help of induction and that mid-level math class that everyone failed because no numbers were involved, we can refactor these recipes into a generic one:

Grilled X:
Cut X into grillable pieces. Add olive oil, salt, pepper, and Y, where Y is another spice that normally goes well with X. Grill over medium-high heat for 5 minutes per side.

It is left as an exercise to try this theoretical recipe on things in the kitchen like cucumbers, bananas, apples, and pot holders.

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Monday, August 08, 2016

Weekend Wrap-up

On Friday night, we took our bumper crop of tomatoes over to the Lowry household for pizza and salads as well as the Opening Ceremony for the Olympics. The ceremony was pretty forgettable, although the section where the giant fish vagina projection screen floor presented the illusion of 3D rooftops while people danced across it was mildly interesting. Plus, the stadium did not collapse so bonus points for that. As usual, NBC completely killed the momentum of the broadcast by having 1.2 commercials for every 1 unit of Olympics.

On Saturday night, I made spinach-stuffed mushrooms for a double birthday party amongst Rebecca's yogi crowd which turned out really well except for the fact that we now have multiple half bags of various cheeses left in the fridge. I'll either find a new recipe that requires many cheese, or melt it all into a bowl and eat it with a spoon.

On Sunday, the Smiths stopped by to reclaim Titan the cat from cat prison, and then we met up with Rebecca's parents at Old Ox Brewery for a midafternoon sampling. The humidity had returned with a vengeance so we wisely sat indoors. We finished the day by laying around the living room with the Olympics on in the background. Rebecca is really into the ludicrous displays, although I would enjoy it much more with fewer commercials, fewer sappy stories about how rough the athletes had it growing up, and more emphasis on the action and replays.

How was your weekend?

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

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Rise of the Tomb Raider:
I first gave this game a B- back in January 2017. I recently picked it up again because I wasn't sure if I'd given it enough of a chance. I can now say that its predecessor, the Tomb Raider reboot is superior in every way. The parts of this game where you're actually playing are fun, with tight controls and neat mini-puzzles. However, the game beats you over the head with continuous cutscenes telling a boring story with awful voice acting and much of your time is spent on loading screens, backtracking through old levels to open up impassable barriers with new tools you gained in later levels (this is an awful idea in Zelda games too). The whole package ends up being tedious and momentumless and I was sick of playing by the time I reached the final boss.

Final Re-Grade: C-

Moss VR:
This is a charming, well-constructed VR game in which you help a mouse defeat an evil serpent in a storybook-style land (heavy shades of Redwall abound). You control the mouse with your Oculus Touch controllers but can also interact with the environment as a god-like character, moving blocks out of the way or distracting enemies so the mouse can get in a good sword strike. The game is very polished and cute, but it is also over very quickly without much evolution in play style or replayability. It's nice that content like this with high production values is being made for VR, but definitely wait for a sale.

Final Grade: B-

The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale, Season One Part Two:
Six more episodes of this show have dropped on Netflix, but they're hit or miss in quality. The show needs to devote more time to mocking reality TV shows and less time on original skits -- all of the skits play out at the mercy of whichever guest star is plugging a new show that week, and many of them are out of their comedic element. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B-

The Gallant by Janny Wurts:
This extended novella is available in a new, massive Kindle bundle (99 cents for 6 fantasy stories spanning 1600 pages) called Secrets and Spells. I'll review the whole collection if I ever get through it, but this particular story is definitely worth the 99 cents on its own. The story takes place in the world of the epic Wars of Light and Shadow series (for which I run the Paravia Wiki), and delves into the backstory of a minor character several hundred years before the main story begins. There's an immediacy to the story that kept me reading (I finished it in an evening) and this is a good taster for Janny Wurts' writing style. (See also, my full Amazon review).

Final Grade: A

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Monday, August 08, 2022

Easy Photos Day

First date night since our anniversary 10 months ago: Dinner at Parallel Wine & Whiskey Bar in Ashburn. I had a tempranillo, Siglo, and a malbec, Llama. Rebecca had a cocktail, SMASH AND PASS.

Post-dinner walk through the muggy wilderness around Beaverdam Reservoir.

Ian rekindles his love of lasagna. No word on whether he hates Mondays yet.

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

 

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