This Day In History: 08/16

Thursday, August 16, 2001

I'm back online already, probably before most of you had a chance to visit twice. The trip was uneventful, but not too tiresome. I left Lorton on the Auto-Train yesterday afternoon and lucked out with one of the few seats that had no assigned seatmate. Not that it really matters, since train seats are almost as bad as bus seats for sleeping. For dinner, I had chicken with a mother and daughter team that glared at me and the other solo rider as if we were the root of the world's problems. The cheesecake made it all worthwhile.

When not sleeping or staring out the window at the low income housing along the tracks, I read Walter Piston's Counterpoint and Joel Lester's Analytic Approaches to Twentieth-Century Music in their entirety. The first was annoying because of the author's blatant attempts to maintain a scholarly tone by putting the audience at arm's length and never using personal pronouns or contractions. The latter book was interesting, although the entire mathematical analysis system present seems a little too pat for my tastes. Musical analysis often tries too hard to fit everything into neat little boxes. Just listen to the song and enjoy it!

This morning, I drove up from Sanford to Tallahassee, a trip which is about twenty miles longer than Alexandria to Blacksburg, but a little more interesting. I also paid $2.50 to drive down thirty miles of "Florida's Turnpike". I thought the Dulles Toll Road was bad!

I have a quaint one-bedroom apartment overlooking a cemetary across the street, and all my stuff is in piles around the living room. My parents will be here tomorrow with the big furniture, but in the meantime, I should start unpacking and continue studying. The daily twenty-minute-rainstorm has gone through so it's a wee bit cooler outside now.

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Friday, August 16, 2002

I'm going to be out of town for a few days, so the next update won't be until Tuesday or Wednesday.

Please do great things in my absence.

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Saturday, August 16, 2003

It's been a busy couple of weeks, but I've managed to get a lot accomplished. At work, I'm still working with outside consultants for software configuration. The summer intern program ended this week, and it's a little strange to see that there's nothing very tangible to show for my summer. Because of the nature of this project, I haven't really "created" anything yet, while in each of my past summers I had written billions of lines of code by now.

Last weekend, I went to the Aerosmith / Kiss concert at the Nissan Pavilion (which is about ten miles down the road). The headliners were both good (I'd never seen either one live before), but the opening group, Saliva, was just horrible. It was interesting to see an older pot-bellied Gene Simmons trying to recreate his historical shtick, though I prefer Aerosmith to Kiss.

In other news, my sister is now engaged to her long-time boyfriend. They're both interested in the Veterinary program at Virginia Tech and are currently living in Christiansburg. Congratulations! Ellen also had a birthday on August 14. Mine is less than a month away!

On the musical side of life, I've contributed an easy arrangement of Mississippi Mud, commissioned for a brass quintet. Apparently some lady always requests it when they play at a particular nursing home. You can hear a MIDI of it here .

This afternoon, I finally got around to completing the Writings section of the Domain. There's no new material in it, but now all of your favourite sections from last year's web site are back in action. Of course, there's also a few new cat pictures to browse through on the Photos page. I modified quite a few files today, so if I've inadvertently broken something, please let me know.

Excuses guaranteed to work
They're more intelligent than we thought
Stupid people don't deserve to win the lottery
That's not why they were naked
Dead people bring down property values

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Monday, August 16, 2004

Doom 3 is quite the suspenseful game. You'd think that it would be impossible for a game to make you jump, but Doom succeeds multiple times over. My machine isn't fast enough to play with all the settings cranked up, but even at low resolutions the graphics are excellent. Give it a try, if you can stomach paying $54 for a game.

At one point, he told police, his testicles had been stapled to his stomach.
Wedding guests eat victim
Man robbed after sex promise 'rip-off'

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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

For the life of me, I could not decide what to write about today. I didn't get home until late yesterday, having spent the afternoon sitting in a freezing lab watching automated tests run on a computer I didn't have clearance to touch (easily more boring than watching snot climb up a wall), and I had very little patience for sitting in front of another computer to be creative. I bought an esophagus-clogging quarter pounder with cheese for dinner (it's such a bad idea for me to ever carry cash anywhere) and found that the price has risen by thirty cents, just like the half-tank of gas I used up today in the three hour jaunt through northern Virginia.

For inspiration, I wandered around the house doing random tasks, like taking pictures of the cats. The portaits above are what my cats would look like if you were a very brave mouse standing on your back paws. This gave me the idea of creating some kind of photo-blog entry today, using pictures my dad sent me recently. The picture on the left is of me in 1981 at the 4H Fair. I had just been sneezed upon by a cow and apparently this was not good for business. The picture on the right is of my sister and I with Fred Flintstone. Apparently Fred had some kind of viral meningitis spawning on his right foot. You can also see the iron-on knee patches inside my pants, doing their very finest "George W. Bush's Coat During a Debate" impression.

If that were the whole update, it would suck, much like this update did: . The new URI! Zone is not allowed to suck anymore (your mileage may vary), so I went online to get ideas from the myriad of BU's denizens. I know some pretty smart people, so I figured they would be able to combat this paucity of wit:

Internet 1, BU 0. Since it didn't look like inspiration would be arriving on my doorstep, I gave up. I will leave you all with this story from my youth in lieu of a real update:

When I was in elementary school, sit-ups were part of the Presidential Physical Fitness Test. These were the old-fashioned hands-behind-the-head situps, not those new age arms-across-the-chest ones. Kids would pair up and see how many situps they could do in one minute, then hold the feet of their partner. One year, I was paired up with a kid named Tony, who decided that he would be the first person to break the school record, which was 70 situps in a minute or something ridiculous. He cautioned me to hold his feet as tightly as possible so he didn't slide around on the foot-flavoured rubber mat. I braced him like I was plugging a hole in the dike, the whistle blew, and he was off!

Now Tony had neglected to mention the fact that he'd had baked beans or some similar entrée for lunch. From the start of his very first sit-up, he was painting the elevator like nobody's business, and each expulsion of effort to reach a sitting position was musically accompanied by a contrapuntal line of Fart. His consistency was quite commendable, since he was able to accompany roughly two-thirds of his sit-ups with the musical saw. Kids on either side of him interrupted their workouts and rolled out of harm's way with cries of panic, but Tony was a boy on a mission in a foreign land of sights and smells (but mostly smells).

As promised, I held his feet to the bitter end. Or not so much bitter, as piquant, as only a swirling miasma of poo in the morning can be.

He only made it to 50.

Wal-mart tries new approaches to ending shoplifting
Man goes to department store after doing sit-ups
Boys sell themselves into slavery to mom

Yesterday's search terms:
rhino pee wmv, verizon eats poop, you have between your legs an instrument that can provide pleasure to thousands yet all you do is scratch it, showers in ambler johnston, barnyard tv

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Caption Contest Voting

Vote for your favourite entries from last week's caption contest via the poll in the left sidebar! The winner and results will be announced on Monday morning.

Secure relationships diminish the female sex drive
Windfall for Whale Vomit
Stored AOL searches show the human race is very scary

tagged as contests | permalink | 3 comments

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Memory Day: Jump Rope Week

With the exception of the time Arnold Schwarzenegger visited for a photo opportunity (during which all seven black kids got to sit in front so our school would look ethnic), our elementary school gym program was neither exciting or innovative. We had gym three times a week, and spent ten minutes running around a circle, jumping over cones to the sounds of really bad 80s records. Sometimes, if we had exhausted all other possibilities, we had off-the-wall diversions like Parachute Day or How to Square Dance.

One such diversion, with little to no aerobic benefits, was Jump Rope Week. During this week, Ms. Joyner and Ms. Balthasar (the two single, yet strangely close joint gym teachers) would put on Whitney Houston's I Wanna Dance With Somebody and the entire class would begin jump roping. The goal was to continuously jump for ten straight minutes without stopping or getting tangled on your rope. Obviously, you would tire out quickly if you put any effort into your jumping, so most people tried to jump as slowly and steadily as possible. The winners for the day would get a gold star, and the winner overall after several contests received... a free jump rope!

The problem with this contest was that it was staged to be won by the rich kids, who could afford to buy the lightweight neon jump ropes from the school for $5 a pop. My sister and I could, of course, but my dad the economist always insisted that "$5 for a jump rope was a rip-off". As such, we were left with the box of shared, lost, and/or unwanted ropes. These jump rope orphans came in only two varieties: twined plastic tubes that looked like a charm necklace gone horribly wrong and clattered against your legs with the force of a drive-by shooting, or the honest-to-goodness one made out of rope, with giant wooden hotdog handles. The latter kind were always the ones to get picked up by the resident sweaty kid, who usually lost his grip at some point during the session, hitting a crying girl in the back of the head or legs.

Besides the obvious advantage that a lighter jump rope affords, the rich kids were less likely to get tripped up on their ropes, and didn't have to worry about amputating their legs to prevent infection every time the plastic tubes pinched shins. After several contests in which the same three rich kids always won, the disgruntled working class unionized and kept a sharp eye out for any cheating or even a semblance of cheating. And, like any good public school, there was plenty of cheating to be found.

Kids would jump so slowly that their ropes would actually lose momentum in midair and start to fall straight down. Kids would alternate between jumping with both feet to jumping off one foot and then the other (this is as bad a travelling in basketball or putting your foot in the windmill blades in mini golf). Kids would stumble on the ropes and then keep going, hoping that nobody noticed.

In my five years of elementary school, I never once won a jump rope contest, even though I had plenty of jump roping prowess. I could jump rope backwards, with my arms crossed, double-jump (or as Alex might say, "with multiple jumps"), on one foot, and I could even do the retarded move where you spun your rope to the left and right as if you were machete-ing your way through a dense jungle. My problem wasn't lack of skill, just lack of interest. Around the six minute mark, I would always get incredibly bored and stop paying attention, ultimately resulting in a tragic plastic tube mishap. This character flaw persisted well into college, where I consistently fell asleep in classes at the forty-five minute mark.

Even the fifty minute classes.

She said she had e-mailed TVX and was told that her photo was to blame for the DVD's poor sales.
Michael Vick sued for $63,000,000,000 Billion Dollars
Help yourself to a mayo margarita

tagged as memories | permalink | 0 comments

Monday, August 16, 2010

Weekend Wrap-up

On Friday evening, I picked up Rebecca at work and then took one of my once-per-century trips into DC for Jazz in the Garden with a contigent of Grinnellians. Because of the lingering storm clouds, the group performed indoors and piped their music out over loudspeakers, so it might as well have been a CD. From there, we went to an overpriced outdoor bar with damp patio furniture and then a restaurant serving Burmese food, aptly named "Burma Restaurant". I had a bowl of squid which had a delicious sauce to offset its rubbery texture.

We took the Orange Line home, driven by a novice drunk who reopened the doors four times at each station as if he were playing Whack-a-Mole on his console, and then accelerated out of the station in short bursts of speed followed by braking, like a fifteen-year-old in a parking lot. The leg from East to West Falls Church took over fifteen minutes, so the complete round trip from Sterling to DC and back was two hours in each direction.

I worked all morning on Saturday, and then had a delayed departure to our weekend in the countryside -- we had an economical wine tasting at the Barboursville Vineyard ($5 for 18 tastes), sandwiches at Stonefire Kitchen, and then spent the rest of the evening at the Inn at Dawsonville, a no-frills bed and breakfast which was easily worth its inexpensive price tag.

On Sunday, we went to the Binders' mountainside house for my sister's baby shower in the midst of yet another thunderstorm, and ate quiche while needlessly increasing the stock prices of the Baby Einstein corporation. We took the scenic route through the overwhelmingly beautiful downtown Manassas Park and arrived back home around 5 to feed the starving cats. We paid tribute to the laws of thermodynamics by sitting around at rest for the remainder of the evening, and I finished the second book in the "Girl With The" book series.

New Hampshire Lawmaker Resigns After "Dead Palin" Comment
Dog chows down on SC man's school board petition
Plastic jar removed from Fla. bear cub's head

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Museday Tuesday

As part of this feature, which I started in 2007, I compose a very brief work (under 30 seconds) inspired by a randomly generated title from an online word generator or suggested by a reader. The composition can be for any instrumentation, and could even be a purely synthesized realization that might not be possible to perform in the real world.

I work on the excerpt continuously for an hour and then post whatever I've managed to complete, even if it could be the hit single from Glenn Gould Plays Tatu.


Emollient: (adj.) having the power of softening or relaxing, as a medicinal substance; soothing, especially to the skin: emollient lotions for the face.

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

This excerpt is written for a smattering of strings and woodwinds, horns and a percussionist. I envisioned a hot, dry sandy beach with cool breeze blowing across it.

Rabies: 1st U.S. human case linked to vampire bat
CDC seeks fliers on Delta plane with stowaway bat
"Grease Devil" panic grips rural Sri Lanka

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Seasons One - Four:
My mom has been trying to get me to watch this series for years, so I took in the first four during some treadmilling / photo-albuming multitasking this year. It's cute, with witty dialogue and one-liners, but feels a little too dated for me to get into. Apart from some really good standalone episodes, it's high on teenage angst and starts to feel repetitive by the third season. Ultimately, I looked at the three seasons I had left and the four I had just watched and decided that it wasn't worth continuing when there are better things to watch.

Final Grade: C+

Easy A (PG-13):
This movie, about a high school girl who unwittingly gets a false reputation as the school tramp, is in the same vein as Mean Girls and Election. It lives up to its influences pretty well, and works as both a "smart" comedy and an easy laugh. It doesn't seem to have received much hype or widespread availability, but it's worth your time if you stumble across it in a bargain bin or bargain Amazon Marketplace stall.

Final Grade: B

Ghost in the Wire by Kevin Mitnick:
This autobiography of hacker, Kevin Mitnick, is hit-or-miss. It's an engrossing technical tale of social engineering, hacks, and clever tricks, but Mitnick presents himself with such a puffed-up ego that the tone of the book feels all wrong. If he were as great a hacker as he purports, he wouldn't keep getting caught throughout the book by law enforcement (who he continuously dismisses as ineffective), and if he were truly as repentant after each arrest because of the heartburn he caused his family, he wouldn't run out and do it again. Ultimately, it's a fun book for the tech talk more than the biography.

Final Grade: C-

Paris-Buenos Aires by Boulevard des Airs:
This is the album of one of the ska-reggae-world-infused bands we saw at the Summer Festival in Quebec. It's a catchy, fun little package, but feels overproduced -- the songs feel much safer than the live show and don't do the live performance justice. This is especially noticeable in the trumpeting, which was bombastic, technically fluent, and high in the live show, but is limited to unison saxophone doubling on the CD. In spite of this, it's an enjoyable change-of-pace CD to have in the car.

Final Grade: B+

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Friday, August 16, 2013

Random Chart Day: Haircuts

On average, I give myself a new haircut every 23.778 days. Any longer and the hair starts retaining its shape after sleeping, or I can see the start of a mullet in the mirror. By cutting my own hair, I have saved $15 per haircut over the last seven years (for a savings of around $1700), and can frequent A Taste of Burma for dinner more often.

Date Days Since Last
6/6/2012?
7/4/201228
7/27/201223
8/18/201222
9/9/201222
10/2/201223
10/24/201222
11/19/201226
12/15/201226
1/10/201326
2/3/201324
3/1/201326
3/25/201324
4/19/201325
5/11/201322
6/1/201321
6/25/201324
7/18/201323
8/8/201321

I donate all of my locks to the toilet.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

New Job Day

Now that I've been back to work for two whole days, it's probably safe to announce that I've accepted a new job that starts on September 1. Meet my new boss:

That's right, I'll be joining the hallowed ranks of stay-at-home dads. I'm looking forward to helping Maia grow up without turning into a neo-Nazi, as well as trips to the park in the middle of the day where I get accused of being a pedophile for being the only dad there.

Rebecca and I have been planning to do this since before Maia was born. I gave my notice at work in early June after we seriously discussed it and realized it was feasible. It's not a choice without risk, but just seemed like the right choice for us right now. Rebecca will continue enjoying herself part-time in her physical therapy career and we won't have to deal with exorbitant day care fees or logistics. We also get more time to visit with the grandparents and friends, or take little trips on regular three-day weekends to East Coast Civil War battlefields (this is the only family activity I know how to do, based on my childhood).

Part of the decision stemmed from our safety net: the fact that we have healthy savings accrued from my years of working on secret alien autopsies and never buying anything unless it's in bulk (thanks, economist dad!). My 30-year mortgage will be paid off in 4 - 8 years (HUMBLEBRAG HASHTAG THANKFUL HASHTAG BLESSED) depending on how quickly I choose to throw money at it and destroy it like a financial ninja, and we could theoretically survive for up to twelve years jobless near our current quality of life as long as we stop buying beers in restaurants and Oculus Rift headsets.

I expect that there will be some job skill atrophy in my brain, but I'm the type of person that's always tinkering on side projects anyhow, and I think I have a strong enough social network and proven good will to counterbalance any rusty skills when I decide to go back. And I'll definitely go back someday -- maybe much sooner or maybe much later -- but at the moment I'm looking forward to an entirely different kind of challenge that doesn't involve software development. Don't get me wrong, software engineering is a wonderful challenge that has kept my brain satiated, but I've been doing it well for nearly twenty years now, and I can't imagine it being as fulfilling as turning a small organism into a thoughtful, empathetic large organism.

It's rare for life to give you the gift of more time and I have the luxury of being able to take advantage of this gift at this moment. Years down the line, when I'm sitting in my virtual reality rocking chair at the virtual old folks' home, I think I would always regret not embracing it, risk and all. Wish us luck!

tagged as offspring, deep thoughts, day-to-day | permalink | 9 comments

Friday, August 16, 2019

List Day: 9 Recent Accomplishments

  1. Finally realized that I could mute the microwave, only 2 years after it would have been useful to avoid baby sleeping disturbances.

  2. Hit 225 hours of play time in Grim Dawn, with only one character higher than level 30.

  3. Perfected a recipe for broiled shrimp that takes less than ten minutes from freezer to devouring.

  4. Finally crossed over the 48,000 miles mark in my 2012 Accord.

  5. Got Rebecca and several of our friends hooked on watching Dark, using my spoiler-free reference sheets.

  6. Destroyed an entire colony of invasive fruit flies (no doubt originating from Rebecca's farmer's markets and other unnecessarily healthy produce) with homemade red wine vinegar traps.

  7. Booked our 10th Anniversary Weekend trip to Montreal (Maia at home with the grandparents).

  8. Got approval at work to pilot a series of newsletters where I write about tech in a way that people can understand.

  9. Finished adding all six short stories to the Wars of Light and Shadow Wiki.

What have you been up to?

tagged as lists | permalink | 2 comments

Monday, August 16, 2021

Back from the Beach Day

We're back from Sandbridge, and new photos have been added to the Life, 2021 album.

Because of traffic, statewide monsoons, and Ian's nursing needs, the trip down to Sandbridge took 8 hours, nullifying our attempts to have a short trip by going to Sandbridge instead of the Outer Banks. We spent most of the trip on scenic Route 17 on roads with imminent flooding concerns.

We stayed in Hebb Tide, right across the road from the beach access. We enjoyed the charm of Sandbridge compared to Outer Banks even though it's much more expensive. Roads are smaller, pedestrians are everywhere, and there's no through truck traffic in the middle of the night. There are, however, really annoying frogs that croak all night and sound like a crosswalk signal for blind people.

Maia enjoyed both the pool (where she got very good at her kick stroke but still doesn't want her eyes to get wet) and the beach (where she charged at the ocean like Elsa running to Atohollan in Frozen 2). Ian fussed everywhere, regardless, and did not have a favourite locale.

We went to Baja, one of Sandbridge's only two restaurants, midweek for some delicious seafood and ordered pizza on the last night. Otherwise, we had to make our own dinners as the pandemic infrastructure for delivery everywhere has not seemed to reach this area.

The trip back took only 7 hours and also featured Ian crying all of the way home.

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 0 comments

 

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