This Day In History: 08/15

Wednesday, August 15, 2001

This will be the last update until I'm situated in Tallahassee. All in all it was a good summer. If I had to do it over again, I'd do a little more "project" work and a little less game-playing. I did try to do a lot of composing early in the summer, but the inspiration just wasn't there. That was about the time that I switched my energies over to making this web page.

To all the Tech folk that I didn't get to see before leaving, feel free to write me on occasion and keep in touch. If I ever get back up here for a holiday, I have a feeling that Nikki will be in a grad school of her choice, Paige will be adored by all her students, Liz will be off at Catholic U (without her sunglasses which are still sitting on my shelf), Kelley will get off his ass and graduate in December, Shac will still be watching Clockwork Orange in the Recital Salon, Doobie will still be saying things like "I'm like the lighthouse. Come to the shore!", Pip will own Busch Gardens, and everyone else who I didn't mention (only because time is short) will be annoyed at me. I also have to thank the entire Spellerberg family for providing their home as a zany rest stop on my way home from work. I had far too much fun staying there when I should have been studiously reviewing polyphony and Palestrina. Thanks!

Thus concludes the gratuitous, and possibly unintelligible, "shout out to my dawgs" (according to the vernacular).

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Thursday, August 15, 2002

People are starting to trickle back into town now, and many of the empty apartments are filling up with the typical undergrads who like to pack everything loosely into their mini-vans and trucks without boxes. Luckily, Thumpy upstairs has moved out, but there's no word yet on who will take his place. The apartment that was occupied by Running Frat Boy last year now holds an extended family consisting of at least a daughter, two parents, a grandmother, and a little cat. It seems like a rather cramped way to use a one bedroom apartment.

I took care of my Declaration of Domicile this morning at the Courthouse. In Tallahassee, you have to pay eleven dollars to "tell" everyone that you live here. Luckily I went early in the morning so there was no line. I'm one step closer to being a Florida resident now... I just have to tackle the last batch of bureaucracy at the Registrar's Office.

Man arrested for driving Fisher Price car

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Sunday, August 15, 2004

I've kept pretty busy at work this past week which hasn't left me much time or impetus to get an update written. I took Friday off to take advantage of some of my surplus hours and got all the things done I should have been doing throughout the week. Today I finished off installing the pool table light, after popping the breaker several times (caused by a faulty lightbulb).

I also did some site cleanup, posted some new BU/Home/Cat pictures, and posted the latest battle report from last month on the Words page.

I saw a few movies last week, including The Butterfly Effect which was much better than reviewed, and The Whole Ten Yards which was pretty stupid. The former should be watched with the director's cut ending for full effect, because it makes more sense and isn't a big copout like the theatrical version. I didn't think Ashton Kutcher could play a meaty role but he didn't do a half bad job.

Woman ordered to wear sign for stealing gas
Woman stuck to couch for six years
Fans face boot for eating or drinking wrong brands at games
Turkmen leader mistakenly believes his country is a level in Zelda
New ways to harm our country

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Monday, August 15, 2005

I would say that my weekend was pretty hectic, but my outlook on such things might be skewed. Having long ago relinquished the title of Social Butterfly of Loudoun County, I consider any weekend busy if I go outside the house more than four times in a single day (bonus points for getting in my car and driving somewhere. Beep beep, monsieur!)

On Friday evening, I cleaned the house and recorded some music examples for my presentation, and then Jack came over for some miscellaneous socializing. Saturday's opener was my typical shopping gambit, where I hit the gas station and the grocery store, pissing off the clerks by getting more cash back than they have in their drawers at such an early hour. I then went to Costco for assorted meat products, followed by Rack Room Shoes for new sneakers. The shoe store turned out to be closed, so I took it as a sign that Saturday-shoe-shopping was not in the cards and went home. Of course, I could have waited around for the mere 20 minutes until opening, but that would be far too logical. Procrastination is in my blood and I am still shoeless.

Florida-Kathy packed up and moved out of the basement Saturday afternoon, so my home is once again squatter-free. I think she stole my hand towel out of the bathroom though. Thief. Around 5, I went over to Chris' in Ashburn to play a $20 poker game with Richard and Chris' friend, William (Chris and Richard were a few years ahead of me in marching band at Tech). Five hours later, I was in 2nd place (which is equivalent to last place when it's winner-take-all). From there I dove into the Bootymobile and hit Anna & Ben's house in scenic south-side Manassas for a second game of poker. I got there too late to jump in, but I did get to deliver my patented FOB chocolate chip cookies (F.resh O.utof B.ox). It's just not Poker Night without my cookies.

On Sunday, I went to Subway for lunch with Kim, who was up in the 'Ling volunteering at Petsmart to clean dirty kitten cages (but really just looking for Booty-rific kittens to steal). I got the 6" Cold Cold Trio on white, which has recently been renamed as the Cold Cut Combo. I think this means they added a piano player, but I couldn't taste any difference. Sunday afternoon was marked with a barbeque for my sister's 29th birthday -- her husband, Dan, and my parents came out as well. Amber stole a Tostito out of the bowl, and also sat on the birthday cake. There was plastic wrap on top, but her inherent gravitational force made most of the words and the frosting come off with the plastic. Incidentally, look at how good I've gotten at dropping the names of the people I associate with -- I like to think of myself as a figurative crossbow bolt of association on a critical trajectory of intersection with the lives of innocent bystanders. (The heck?)

While over at Chris', I was reminded of a fellow who I hadn't thought about in years. Mike Saunders, who everyone called "Hubcap", was a freshman trumpet player in the marching band at Tech in 1998. His name was always on everyone's lips and he was very well-connected for a freshman. The section leaders initially had misigivings about passing his audition because he was some kind of triple major, which meant that he wasn't at practice often. Luckily, he managed to get in as the 64th trumpet (the section was always capped at 63). Hubcap was a stand-up guy and even people in the other sections of the band liked him. He threw great parties, which culminated in his inclusion in the MV Trumpets Slot Machine (3 Hubcaps was worth 10 bottles of Gold Bond).

By the end of the 1998 football season, Hubcap was so popular that he got the award for Outstanding Freshman in the marching band. Unfortunately, he transferred to another school after his freshman year, but even years later, people in the band would always talk about "that Mike Saunders" guy.

So what's the punchline? Mike Saunders did not exist. Mike Saunders was the product of a bunch of bored trumpet players on an Abbott bus to northern Virginia. His name quietly appeared on the trumpet rosters and then everyone made a point to drop his name in any appropriate slot in the conversation. Ridiculous party busted up by the cops? "Yeah, I hear that Hubcap herded all the underagers into a closet so they wouldn't get caught." Someone steal a giant trash can with Vanderbilt University etched on the side? "Hubcap told the field crew he was on the Vanderbilt staff and they believed him, even though he was in a band uniform!" Someone playing the Hokie Pokie four octaves too high? "Sorry, Jay, it was Hubcap."

By the time the embarassing Music City Bowl in Nashville had come and gone, Hubcap was a household name, there were regular sycophants in the woodwind sections who claimed to be his best bud, and the band directors occasionally remarked that he wasn't at practice very often. His lack of attendance was blamed on his 25 credit courseload and the fact that he was constantly travelling to other universities as part of the University Outreach program. I'm reasonably certain we didn't have an Outreach program.

How did Mike Saunders get the Outstanding Freshman award? It's simple math. In a band of 330, the trumpet section was the largest at 63. Hubcap got 20% of the vote without contest, and probably more since we were actively telling other sections to vote for him if they couldn't think of anyone better. Unfortunately the endgame was nullified when word leaked out at the Band Banquet. Before Hubcap could be announced in the awards ceremony, the director had removed the "Mike Saunders" plaque from the trophy and awarded it to the freshman who had been a distant 2nd.

In honor of Hubcap, I have resurrected the 1999 Edition of the Slot Machine -- it's an old-school mutation written purely in JavaScript which you can play at work when there's nothing better to do. Fun fact: David Miller, the all-time high scorer with 3106996 bottles of Gold Bond sat in his room for hours on end, clicking on the Play! button. For his single-minded devotion, he was given the nickname "Jackpot" in marching band. Another fun fact: The internal JavaScript code for a Jackpot is "222".

The message is fine; just dial it down a little.
Driver cites PlayStation, fear of jail in explaining dangerous bid for freedom
Oops, how'd that get there?

Yesterday's search terms:
what do you do when you're cooped up in a hotel room between shows, tc williams prom 2004, diarrhea cartoons and pictures, cats with maggots, fried chicken .midi

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Next Year's Version

I received this pamphlet in the mail yesterday, advertising the next version of Finale, my music-writing software. The cover looks like a badly-designed reading primer from the 80s and comes with a nonsensical-if-you-stop-and-think-about-it slogan, "In the silence before the music begins, anticipation lingers." What does that even mean, and how does it relate to notation software? I don't have any solid proof, but I think they just copied the poster from next year's horror movie, Dark Alley.

Flipping through the pamphlet, I didn't really see any features to get excited about. Just a few additional formatting techniques that will make every part you print an unintentionally unique snowflake and a bunch of musical sounds that still don't sound like the real deal. Honestly, I haven't used any new features in the Finale programs since the 2002 version, but somehow I'm supposed to believe that it's a bargain to upgrade to 2007 for a mere $99. I probably won't think it's a bargain until they invent a cap I can wear that converts the music I'm thinking in my brain into picture-perfect scores and MIDI files. Brahms ain't got nothin' on the symphonies I store in my brain, but sadly no one will ever get to experience my unadulterated musical genius because I don't feel like transcribing the score onto paper (this is the world's loss).

It's one thing to change the year or version number on your product to separate it from previous versions. It's another matter entirely to repackage and SELL it as a slick upgrade when not much is different at all (see also Madden NFL '94, Madden NFL '95, Madden NFL '96, Madden NFL '97, Madden NFL '98, Madden NFL '99, Madden NFL '00, Madden NFL '01, Madden NFL '02, Madden NFL '03, Madden NFL '04, Madden NFL '05, and Madden NFL '06).

Here are some other signs that I don't always need the latest and greatest to survive:

AIM 5.1.3: The last version before they added all the useless ads, sounds, and streaming video, cluttering up my buddy list. I also pair it with DeadAIM 3.2.1 for tabbed browsing and hiding of all the useless AOL gimmicks.
SUPER Notetab v2.63e: This fine text editor is circa 1996 and is what I use for ALL of my web site and much of my daily work as well.
WordPerfect 12: Another 1996 fossil -- I would use WordPerfect 5 if they made a version that still worked in Windows. I could go off on a tangent here about how much I dislike Microsoft Word and how it tries to anticipate your every action and usually gets your intentions wrong, but that's enough for a whole update on its own.

Sign stealer saves the world from corruption
Strangely enough, no one found the taco sauce joke particularly funny.
Baltimore man has "Islam Sucks" signs

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Time-Lapsed Blogography Day

BU at 15 data points

August 15, 1992: I had a Saturday afternoon art class at the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, which I missed because I was off at Junior Leadership Camp wearing this colourful hat.

August 15, 1993: I don't have any information about this day, but I was probably at high school band camp, learning the show for Mirada and Fascinating Rhythm. I was just going into tenth grade, and my sister was a senior.

August 15, 1994: In the last of the big family vacations, the four of us took the auto-train from Virginia to Florida, and then spent a week at the various overpriced theme parks and beaches.

August 15, 1995: I had a band rehearsal in the morning, wowing impressionable freshmen with my drum major techniques, after which I biked home, practiced my conducting, made a Doom 2 level, and waited for Jack to get home from Canadian Canoe Camp to play it.

August 15, 1996: Today was the second to last day at my PEPCO internship, where I did a "full-day's work" of entering power plant ash tickets in an hour, delivered mail to the entire company in another hour, and then logged onto the Webchat Broadcasting System and chatted for the remaining six hours.

August 15, 1997: I was that (indubitably cool) guy that comes back from college to help out with the high school band, so I spent today teaching marching, having trumpet sectionals, and flirting with the new drum major.

August 15, 1998: I spent all day working on the third movement of Olio, commissioned by Joe Ehrenberger for his senior recital, and ultimately played at my own recital three years later, featuring Doobie on the tuba. In the evening, I went over to Chris Sharp's house and listened to him bitch about how much he hated high school.

August 15, 1999: I went up the street to our neighbours' (the Jarretts) house and took care of their new puppy, Bailey, while they were out of town. This mainly involved me cleaning poop and pee off the kitchen floor. In the evening I packed for a trip back to Tech, and left the next morning in the 1994 Dodge Spirit.

August 15, 2000: I was already down at Tech, having moved into Foxridge the previous weekend. Anna moved in today, and band camp started the next day.

August 15, 2001: Anna and Emily stopped by my house to say goodbye, and then I took the auto-train to Florida once again, this time on my own and ready to wow the Florida State musical world with my awesome arrangement of Irish Washerwoman which I edited in the rail car.

August 15, 2002: I took care of the paperwork necessary to become a bona fide resident of Florida (necessary to get a cheaper tuition rate that more closely matched the quality of the classes I was taking).

August 15, 2003: I finished up an arrangement of Mississippi Mudfor my dad's brass quintet.

August 15, 2004: I installed the light over my fabulous pool table.

August 15, 2005: I went down to the BN12 lab at Skyline 7 in Bailey's Crossroad (for a different project) and sat in a freezing lab all day, watching tests run. With my lack of clearance, I wasn't allowed to touch the computer back then. Now I can toss them in the back seat and take them home to install World of Warcraft.

August 15, 2006: Not much happened, other than the fact that I bitched about the fact that there's a new Madden game every year. Madden '08 came out yesterday, and it's clearly better than Madden '07 because the number suffix is bigger.

Accused says he was just milking the goat
EZPass data used to catch cheaters
The Price is Right hates Drew Carey

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Baby Booty Day

Because of general busy-ness at work, I did not have time to write a Friday Fragments column this week. Instead, today's update will be a small mini-game, where readers must correctly guess which pictures show a baby, and which pictures show my cat, Booty. (Answers are on the back of the Mini Page).

Don't miss the live action version either (2MB WMV).

Porn inspector arrested in Colorado
Man lives in luggage locker
Sweet Home Alabama...in Britain

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Weekend Wrap-up

Time is slipping away like the Fairfax butt slasher, and there's only one month until I turn 32. This weekend was a fairly low-key one, and started with a Friday night dinner at the Tortilla Factory next to a table full of young moms, one whose child was probably named Joanna, based on the "Jo Momma" shirt the mom was wearing. From there, we ambled down to the pulsing night scene of Herndon downtown to hear Herr Metal, an 80s hair metal cover band.

I did some DDMSence work in the morning on Saturday, followed by a Home Improvement marathon (where marathon is defined as "3 episodes") and a Game Night featuring Taboo and Costco mini quiches. Competition was intense, and by the end of the night there were an equal number of winners and losers.

Sunday was IKEA day -- we drove down to Potomac Mills before it was overrun by massive plagues of yuppies and looked at choices for dining room tables. We settled on a style, but not a color, and walked out only with armfuls of seat cushions and pillows. After a brief stop at my parents' house to steal more seasons of The Wire, we returned home for a dinner of shells and cheese and more mini quiches.

Around 9, Chris stopped by to reclaim Titan after his week-long vacation, and the other cats were mostly sad to see him go.

Britain's Rarest Spider Released Back Into Wild
Baby, you can park my car
Man stole and swallowed client's ring

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Memory Day: Eleven Years Ago Today

August 15, 2001 marked the formal severance of my Virginia residency, an act of abandonment that would allow me to get in-state tuition rates a year later at Florida State. At the time, I had no idea how much I would end up keeping in touch with college friends, and didn't know if we would just naturally scatter to the winds like dandelion tufts bound together by nothing more than proximity and Killian's. It was for this reason that I originally started a blog, and you can see from the relative innocence of those early "this is what I ate for lunch" posts that I really had no particular goal in mind.

Before this trip, I had only been to Tallahassee once, with my dad, to lease an apartment and figure out where things were situated. My plan for this trip was to take the Auto Train from Lorton to Sanford, FL, converting a 13 hour drive into a 4 hour drive (plus 18 hours on a train). This is evidence that perhaps Virginia Tech was mistaken in giving me a math minor.

Anna and her sister, Emily, came out to say goodbye in my final hours as an Alexandria resident, after which I drove a 2001 Honda Accord, swollen with music textbooks and computer gear, to the Lorton train station.

Riding the train was a pleasant experience, although I spent very little time enjoying the scenery. I was engrossed in several boring remedial textbooks, hoping to augment my mediocre VT music education enough to pass all of the scary FSU entrance exams. I did not yet realize that the threshold for passing these exams was more of a speed hump than an Olympic hurdle.

The main things I remember about Florida highways were the 80 MPH speed limit (which was never enforced until 90) and the sudden monsoons that reduced visibility to 0 before vanishing completely. After an uneventful drive across the part of the state that isn't the panhandle, I arrived at my cinderblock Parkwood apartment and settled in, ready to begin the Florida chapter of life, full of Totino's pizzas, Jim Barry, and Ginger (the dog)!

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Review Day

Colin & Brad: Two Man Group:
This comedy special from two stars of Whose Line plays out like a very diluted version of Whose Line. It's good for some chuckles, but not amazing, aside from the price point (Free on Netflix)

Final Grade: C+

Electric Circus by Common:
I purchased this album on the strength of I Am Music. It's mainly rap set over a mix of electronica that might have been innovative back in 2002 when it was released, but which everyone is doing these days. A few catchy songs are mixed with a few songs that are too amorphous in structure to really remember.

Final Grade: B-

Community, Season Four:
I ended up liking Season Three slightly more on my second viewing, so I decided to give this new season a chance. This is the first season without the original creator at the helm, and the entire thirteen episode collection is really trying too hard, as if the new writers have to prove that they are just as zany. What little subtlety the show ever had goes out the window, to be replaced by character sketches that boil most characters down to their most annoying facet (not unlike "Ross" in the later seasons of Friends). I did like a couple episodes towards the end of the run where they calmed the eff down, but otherwise, it was cringeworthily bad.

Final Grade: D+

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Thought That Counts Day

Loudoun County gives out the best birthday presents.

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Monday, August 15, 2016

Hello from Boulder

We flew into Denver mid-morning on Saturday and made our way up to Boulder in time for the last few minutes of the weekly Farmer's Market.

We spent the evening biking through hippies and taking a small hike up to Red Rocks in Settler's Park (not the same as the Ampitheatre), with dinner at Southern Sun and drinks at FATE ("Coffee Kolsch" sounds weird, but it's more delicious than Soon Bok Yoon).

On Sunday morning, we went to Chautauqua Park to hike the Flatiron 1/2 trail, which would take us to where the arrow points in this picture.

We made it to the top! We then did a second hike to the Royal Arch which I bailed on halfway up, in favour of taking a 1 hour nap on a large cool rock in the forest. Rebecca and Emily made it all of the way up and were unimpressed.

After ice cream at Glacier, we dropped Emily off at her airport shuttle (having planned for just a single whirlwind weekend visit) and then spent the rest of the day wandering around Pearl Street Mall. Rebecca got some fancy tea at a store near a street musician who was probably high and just playing warm ups on a tenor saxophone. For dinner, we went to the West Flanders Brewing Company, where we had 4 deliciously on-the-mark Belgian beers.

A more detailed travelogue might follow when I get home. Happy Monday!

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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken two years ago today, on August 15, 2016. Maia did not yet exist.

On our way out of Boulder, Colorado towards Estes Park, we stopped for lunch at the original Oskar Blues for beer flights. These massively American-looking meals were our lunch for the day. Clearly we were bulking up for our attempt at hiking a 14er in the coming weeks. I was also on a mac and cheese kick, ordering mac and cheese at every restaurant that had it in Colorado, in hopes of finding the best one. Although no restuarant's serving was the winner, I won by getting to eat a lot of mac and cheese.

In the evening on this same day, we went hiking at Rocky Mountain National Park and made some furry friends.

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Monday, August 15, 2022

Pandemic Retrospective, Part I of IV

Introduction

This is the first in a short series of posts about the COVID-19 pandemic and its long-term effects on my psyche. I want to capture an honest assessment of these strange times before my memories become blurry and apocryphal, because I'm ancient (over 40) and near death (I eat a lot of shells and cheese).

I've come to believe that sharing honest thoughts is one way to rejuvenate the fading social connections we all need to thrive. It's an open secret that a blog isn't truly a window into someone's inner thoughts, but a protected wall they can scribble on that highlights only what they select to be seen. With social media reinforcing just the polished stories that boost the ego and put the author in a positive light, it's important to recognize that everyone struggles. No one's life is consistently and continuously amazing as Instagram might have you believe -- you're just seeing the carefully curated high points. Your struggles, and mine, matter as much as anyone else's and being open about your vulnerability can be surprisingly healthy.

For me, "traumatic" and other emotionally-charged words are not a good description of the past two and a half years. Life is not a movie: I was never in true physical danger and my livelihood was never jeopardized. Though I knew people (including family) who caught or died of COVID-19, no one was in my first-degree circle of family and friends. However, the fact that I was privileged enough to avoid a common dreadful outcome doesn't delegitimize my experience.

So this will be my story, put in writing, showing the impact of the past two and a half years on one person. It's just one data point in our shared history. I'll talk about how things went in the moment, the unhealthy patterns I fell into as the weeks stretched into months and then years, and the positive changes I've resolved to make as time moves ineluctably forward. I'm not trawling for sympathy or Internet fame (although maybe Ken Burns III will read this aloud in a documentary someday). I just want to share something viscerally real, and hope to hear something real from you as well.

Other posts in this series: Part I: Introduction | Part II: March - October 2020 | Part III: November 2020 - January 2022 | Part IV: February 2022 - Today, and Conclusion

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