This Day In History: 08/20

Monday, August 20, 2001

The lower theory exam was pretty straightforward -- three exercises, with two on partwriting and one on harmonic analysis. I have a feeling that I actually did pretty well. According to the rumour mill, the number of students who passed the History exam was in the single digits one year, and this fact was confirmed by a professor today. I guess I'd better switch my focus from studying Mahler to studying rounded binary form.

There were about 150 new graduate students at orientation today, with most of them being in Music Education or Music Therapy. In second place were the various musicology fields and performance, and composition came in last place with five Masters students and one Doctoral student (I'm counting myself as a Masters student for now). In between the monotonous and tedious paperwork, I caught up with Jaime from Virginia Tech, who's here for Horn Performance. I also met Angela, a composition student who did her undergraduate work here, and Ian, an older man from Canada who relocated his family here so he could study guitar performance. There were a few other supporting characters whose names went straight through my sieve of a memory.

The location of my apartment is great, and the five minute walk from here to the music buildings is decorated with a large array of attractive sorority houses and co-eds. The trip is even shorter than when I lived in West and East AJ at Tech.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Media Day

Ella is now four feet tall and one-hundred twenty pounds.

Amber noticed that the dishes in the rack were dripping water into the sink, and resolved to fix the leak.

Playing a game of Apples to Apples during the Mike/Jamie visit.

Poker Night last weekend. Rebecca came in first place, followed by Kristy, Florida-Mike, Jaood-Mike, myself, Jamie, and then Jack. Jack paid two buy-ins, went out first, and had his wife win the buy-ins back.

If you ever go to the Arlington County Fair, don't forget to ride the SCAT.

Every good county fair has a petting zoo.

The llama wasn't sure if this was a dog or a very tasty hor d'oeuvre.

Later on, they raced various farm animals around a track, and the announcer told one of the volunteers from the crowd that she "would make a great dingaling".

More Pictures

See more August Pictures
See more new Cat Pictures


Amber in a Horror Movie (3MB WMV)
Arlington County Fair Pig Race (12MB WMV)
Arlington County Fair Duck Race (3MB WMV)

Happy Birthday Matt Hackworth!

Man saved by Heimlich-seat-belt
Virginia tourism uses gang signs
German teenagers' debut sex act interrupted by fire

tagged as media | permalink | 3 comments

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Game Day

There seems to be a recent makeover frenzy surrounding classic board games deemed too slow-paced or spiffy for modern audiences. The latest casualty of this is everyone's favourite game, Clue. From the cosmetic side, the staid British guests are replaced with a movie star and a football player among others, while the lead pipe has been dropped for the equally logical "set of dumbbells" (which is apparently easier to find in a spa or a home theatre).

Because kids today have the attention spans of fruit flies with cancer, Clue is now shorter, with the guests having special superhero powers to help solve the murder faster. Other cards have the possibility of eliminating players as suspects completely.

This isn't the first childhood memory obliterated by the board game industry. Life introduced mid-life crises, shattering my deeply-ingrained understanding that the only way to succeed in the world was to be a doctor (being a teacher would leave you broke on the side of the road with four pink pegs in the station wagon). Monopoly eliminated cash, training youngsters that all purchases should be made with a credit card on a minimum balance.

At this rate, it won't be long before every game has been updated for the 21st century. Here are a few others we'll probably get before long:

  • Risk: The next world war will be decided solely with nuclear weapons, so each confrontation is fought with seven attack dice versus a single two-sided defense die (also known as a coin). Whenever the US gains new troops, they must immediately be deployed to the Middle East for six turns.

  • Sorry: Pieces now travel on a counter-clockwise path -- as soon as they leave the Start zone, they travel up the Finish path.

  • Battleship: Every ship in the box is now a double-wide, increasing the chances of a successful hit. If no player has won in fifteen minutes, players swap game boards.

  • Trivial Pursuit: The Geography, Arts, and Science categories will be replaced by Types of Sheep, Prime Numbers, and Foods that Begin with the Letter Q, respectively. Instead of requiring 6 pie pieces to win, players compete for two pieces of a hot dog: the dog and the bun.

  • Labyrinth: All the holes in the maze have been removed except for the last one. For better reading comprehension, the game will be rechristened as Tilty Mazey.

  • Chess: All pawns are replaced with queens. Instead of the classic black versus white confrontation, all pieces will be the same mulatto colouring, with sides determined based on ability.

  • Connect Four: Rechristened as Connect Two.

  • Jack Mustard In the Spa With the Ax
    Computer humans take the next step
    New porn channel lets Canadians strut their stuff

    tagged as mock mock, games | permalink | 3 comments

    Thursday, August 20, 2009

    List Day: 10 Deep Thoughts

    I've kept a running list of deep thoughts on my Blog Ideas page since 2004, figuring that on a slow day they might make good fodder for discussion. However, I never seem to look up from the posts about boobies and chipmunk vomit for long enough to be seriously serious. For housekeeping purposes, I'm just posting the list as is, because it's easier than exploring any one of them in depth!

    1. To truly master a topic, you have to study one step beyond the level that it's taught. That is, Calculus I might give you working knowledge of an integral, but you won't really know integrals until you take them to the next level in Calculus II. If you are looking for engineers that are skilled in C.R.A.P., skip all the clowns who earned that certification and hire the ones that earned the one after it.

    2. If speeding tickets were really about public safety and not about revenue, the government would allow us to donate the fines to a charity of our choice.

    3. To truly grow as a person, you need to let your past shape your actions, without letting your past control you.

    4. Our government is broken because of money. You can't reach a position that matters without access to money, and anyone that tries to push money back down to a problem is thwarted by the eighty layers that leech a few bucks off the top until there's not enough left to fix anything.

    5. Foodstuffs that depend on each other (like hot dogs and buns, or chips and dip) will never run out at the same time.

    6. Racism is wrong and narrow-minded, but there's nothing wrong with prejudices evolved from your direct experiences. Denying a job to an Asian because he's Asian is bad. Denying him because you had three horrible employees who looked, smelled, or acted like him is just good business sense. The fact that #2 can be mistaken for #1 is the reason why people get uptight about it.

    7. When you become a defensive driver for your own safety, you become a hazard to every other driver around you.

    8. If environmental action is mandated from the top down, people and corporations will resist and ignore, and nothing will get done. If you act for the environment from the bottom-up, you'll never get enough done to impact the entire planet.

    9. All of the basic, simple, useful tools have been created. We're never going to see another colander.

    10. The reason Americans don't care about oil dependency is because they don't understand just how many resources people consume in a single day. As part of their education, people should be required to grow an acre of wheat, process it, drive it to a restaurant, and see for themselves just how quickly it depletes.
    Football coaches recruiting more trumpet players
    Average gamer is 35, fat, and bummed
    Putpockets give a little extra cash, and a reason for real pickpockets to reach in a pocket

    tagged as lists, deep thoughts | permalink | 7 comments

    Friday, August 20, 2010

    Friday Fragments

    the stage was surrounded by screaming groupers, probably there to see the bass player

    ♠ This has been an incredibly long week, during which I was sick and still working, so I really have nothing new to report, other than the fact that the census ends on Monday, and people who comment after Monday at 6 PM will not be able to win the cash prize, which in my economic opinion, is very fiscally irresponsible of you and highly deserving of this horrible single sentence paragraph.

    ♠ In non-BU news (Byews), Rebecca has finally left the T-Shirt business to go back to school for physical therapy, so if you were hoping to get further discounts on soft dryer-unsafe shirts hanging off of anorexic androgynous models, you are now officially too late to the party.

    ♠ The problem with living with chicks is that they have so many articles of clothing that cannot go in the dryer that a drying rack is a necessity (thanks, Larry). Gone are the bachelor days when I could just get everything one size too large and haphazardly throw it all into the dryer on HIGH HEAT ROUGH AND TUMBLE RUMBLE -- now I have to pick through the damp clothes to extract this cotton sweater or that fuzzy kitten.

    ♠ Disclaimer: I have never actually put a cat in the dryer.

    ♠ Disclaimer #2: There has been one in the washing machine, but she went in herself and it was not turned on.

    ♠ I have no set plans for the weekend, although I'll probably take off pretty early today since I'm already hovering around Overtime Land and it's the end of the pay period. If anyone has mischief planned that would be augmented by the presence of an Asian, let me know!

    ♠ Have a great weekend! Only six more weeks until Kelley dies in basic training!

    Blagojevich movers put unpaid storage items up for auction
    Judge won't let man call himself 'Boomer the Dog'
    BBC News apologises for weatherman gesture

    tagged as fragments | permalink | 5 comments

    Monday, August 20, 2012

    Weekend Wrap-up

    This past weekend was one of the busiest of the year, starting with a Friday night showing of Stick It, which I was reminded of while researching Friday's post and thought that Rebecca would get a kick out of, now that the Olympics have ended.

    On Saturday morning, we went to Rebecca's parents' house and did some kayaking on Lake Barcroft. The outing was nicely aligned with the first hot-cool day of the summer, where it didn't feel agonizing to be outside in the humidity (since Virginia is the armpit of the East Coast during the summer). In the evening, we had a Persian dinner at the home of one of Rebecca's PT classmates in yuppy-Sterling.

    On Sunday, we had our first ever trip to the local bowling alley (with our across-the-street neighbours) for a bowling special of 3 games (plus shoes) for $10. I hadn't been bowling in at least six years, and managed to reach a top score of only 124. Out of 300, this is a 41%, and thus, would be passing in public school.

    In between rainstorms, we ducked out for our first ever visit to the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum Annex, whose name sounds more like an ice cream flavor than a Smithsonian institution. It was my first trip, since I am philosophically against museums that bill themselves as "free" but then charge $15 for parking. The occasion was a meet-and-greet party for FGM and the company it is merging with.

    We ate free sushi, saw an overwhelmingly underwhelming IMAX movie about the history of flight which opened with the statement "As the twentieth century comes to a close...", and rode in an interactive flight simulator. Rebecca was the pilot, and got stuck in a neverending barrel roll, and I was the gunner, a tacked on position that's about as useful as being Player 2 in Super Mario Galaxy.

    Mixed throughout these events was time enough to start new seasons of Dexter and Community.

    How was your weekend?

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

    Tuesday, August 20, 2013

    Recipe Day: Grilled Blackened Chicken Breast


    • Prep Time: 10 minutes
    • Brining Time: 1 hour
    • Grilling Time: 10 minutes


    • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
    • olive oil
    • 4 cups cold water
    • 1/8 cup table salt (non-iodized)
    • 1/8 cup sugar

    • 1 teaspoon paprika
    • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
    • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
    • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper


    1. Detach all of the gross, muscley trimmings from the chicken breasts and mail to an enemy.

    2. Put breasts into freezer bags and use a rolling pin to flatten them out for even cooking (about 3/4" inch thick).

    3. Prepare a brine of cold water, table salt, and sugar (stirring until dissolved). Remove breasts from bags and brine them. Store in fridge for about an hour.

    4. Prepare the spice rub during fridge time.

    5. Discard brine and pat dry. Rub both sides of (chicken) breasts with olive oil and then coat with the spice rub. Set aside in fridge until grilling time.

    6. Clean and heat grill (medium-high heat). Grill breasts for 6.5 minutes per side directly over the heat.

    7. Remove and serve with pasta.

    The brining is critical for keeping the meat extra juicy, and the spice rub ends up tasting a little like a healthy fried chicken crust. Enjoy!

    tagged as recipes | permalink | 0 comments

    Wednesday, August 20, 2014

    Memory Day: Snapshots

    This picture was taken in October 1995 as I conducted the T.C. Williams Marching Band. Conducting, like having a tea, is best done with pinky raised. I don't know what song the band was playing, but it probably wasn't the Fight Song since the team never scored.

    Those saucers on my face were actually prescription glasses with transition lenses, and I'm definitely wearing musical note suspenders under my subtle, understated uniform. The sign behind me refers to the practice of playing random notes on your horn, not the practice of molestation -- both, however, are not optimal experiences.

    tagged as memories | permalink | 0 comments

    Thursday, August 20, 2015

    Review Day

    There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

    Sense8, Season One:
    This is a new Netflix original series about eight people across the world who become telepathically linked, and can suddenly experience each others' lives. The individual stories of the eight are the primary focus of this show -- this is not a show to watch if you want to be satisfied by an overarching storyline or are seeking answers to why things are happening. Some of the characters are more interesting than others, and episodes stutter-step between long, talky sections, and fun action scenes where, for example, one of the characters uses the fighting skills of another character. It's very slow paced, and you'll know whether you'll like it or not after just two episodes. My opinion on the show can be summed up with Rossini's opinion on Wagner: "Wagner has lovely moments but awful quarters of an hour." Free on Netflix.

    Final Grade: C

    Half Full Ashtrays, Half Empty Glasses by the Lab Rats:
    I really enjoyed the song, "Devil's Train" that came on my Hilltop Hoods Pandora station, and the EP is well worth the purchase. This is a solid collection of white blue-collar hip-hop over full orchestrations that are much more fleshed out than your typical looping beat track.

    Final Grade: A-

    Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn:
    I have not yet seen this movie, but the book is well-written and a real page-turner in spite of the fact that it falls apart in the end. The book is divided into three sections -- the first hooks you in, while the second upends your understanding of all of the pieces. The third felt a little obligatory and more like an epilogue than a climax. The ending is internally consistent, but not satisfying after the intense build of the previous parts. If a poor ending will ruin your enjoyment of the book as a whole, you'll probably want to skip this one, rather than be let down by it.

    Final Grade: B

    Amazon Echo:
    We've now had our Echo device for about five months, but it hasn't become an integral part of our existence. My primary use for it is music, but it has two drawbacks: playing Pandora stations includes too many ads, and it's cumbersome to set up playlists of your own music in the provided online UI. We also use it for top news and weather on a daily basis. Anything more complicated than this still results in poor understanding of our commands. Still, at the $99 price point, it's useful enough that I don't regret buying it.

    Final Grade: B

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments

    Monday, August 20, 2018

    Weekend Wrap-up

    Maia gets to visit with her Aunt Ellen and 3 cousins, fresh off the plane from Rhode Island.

    7 out of 8 isn't bad.

    Rebecca and Sara made a bourbon peach upside-down cake.

    We threw a small yogi party for Sara's return.

    tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 3 comments

    Friday, August 20, 2021

    More Deep Thoughts Day

    A post I want to preserve from Facebook:

    August 2, 2021

    Some news outlets are reporting on the COVID Delta variant in an irresponsible manner. While it's hard to fit iterative scientific discoveries into one simple Twitter-length sound bite, here are 4 simple facts to keep in mind:

    1. Vaccines are working. They convert the heavy questions of "Will I need to go to the hospital? Will I have long-term disabilities or die?" into the annoyance of "Will I feel bad for a few days? Will I need to cancel my plans and have to contact trace?"
    2. Equating "unvaccinated" with "anti-vax" demonizes at least 40 million kids under 12 and immunocompromised adults with legitimate reasons for not being protected. There are simple, compassionate ways we can continue to protect these people, like getting vaccinated ourselves and indoor masking.
    3. Every time someone gets COVID, vaccinated or not, in the States or elsewhere, there is a small chance for the virus to mutate into a more deadly form that our current vaccines can no longer counteract. We aren't there yet, and we don't ever have to get there as long as we work together for the good of the people around us.
    4. It's easy to manufacture extreme emotions on the Internet. The next time you feel panic or outrage because of an article you read, please take a step back and evaluate whether the situation truly warrants it or whether the article was intentionally designed to steer you in a particular way for the sake of clicks and ad revenue.

    tagged as deep thoughts | permalink | 0 comments


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